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Durham e-Theses
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The Way We Play: Exploring the specifics of formation, action and competition in digital gameplay among World of Warcraft raiders

COCKSHUT, TAHIRIH,LADAN (2012) The Way We Play: Exploring the specifics of formation, action and competition in digital gameplay among World of Warcraft raiders. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores the specific practices of group gameplay (called ‘raiding’) in the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMO). In particular, it presents ethnographic research conducted by the author between 2009 and 2012 where she studied raiding in World of Warcraft (WoW), a game environment that is a complicated and malleable space with many pathways of play built into it, not the least of which are the particular ways that raiders choose to shape and sustain their play experience. Building on Galloway’s ‘four moments of gamic action’ as a theoretical framework from which to consider gamic representation among raiders and through ethnographic research on raiding gameplay practices, this thesis considers the ways that formation, competition and gamic action have distinguished raiding within the online, persistent game environment, forming to become a set of interwoven principles that work in concert to sustain long-term raiding activity. The objective of this thesis is twofold: first, to contribute to the gap in games research on raiding gameplay practices in MMOs; and second, to consider how the study of online group play through the context of MMO raiding can impact further geographical research into the digital game, particularly within the contexts of the virtual and playful. Conclusions drawn from this work suggest that the study of game raiding (and its persistence) offers an important perspective to understanding the nature of the complex online game environment; an environment that is at once controlled and malleable, multisensory and immersive, engaging yet sustaining, and complex yet localized, creating many simultaneous moments in gamic action where these representations of space, action, formation and competition function not so much to define gameplay but more so to shape and enable it.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:virtual; digital game; World of Warcraft; raiding; formation; action; competition; group; games; play; gameplay; ethnography; virtual ethnography; online research methods
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:05 Dec 2012 11:11

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