Pick one topic (e.g. dating) and list examples of the way the Internet has, in terms of your topic, become part of our everyday in terms of community, power, economy and identity.
I have selected ‘Gaming’ to post to this discussion thread. Frustration creeps in when addressing these wonderful topics from Module 1 – so much to cover and discuss around these four themes in Module 2! So, here is my offering… I tried my best to avoid submitting an essay!
Gaming via the Internet enables the creation of communities sharing common interests. The game culture consists of player communities who congregate online to chat about game strategies and related interests, even offering cheats and crack codes for use to pass levels within games. The “production of collective knowledge” (Taylor, 2011, p. 376) can effect socialisation, cooperation and communication within such communities.
Further to this, online identities are formed and maintained in role-playing games such as World of Warcraft (WoW). Albrechtslund (2011) discusses the importance of these identities when, in 2010, the developers of WoW announced their intention to introduce an extension of RealID, an optional feature for the WoW community which enabled connections in the offline world to be established if desired. This extension would make it compulsory for members of the WoW community to supply their real-life names, therefore effectively eliminating the concealment of one’s actual identity (para. 1). This proposed change was met with great protest within the WoW community, with players expressing in a variety of ways how such a change would impact upon WoW negatively, as “… anonymity is perceived as a basic necessity to ensure the mutual trust of players” (para. 10). It is obvious from Albrechtslund’s research that the proposed change in WoW was perceived as having severe ramifications, as many in the community viewed the game as “… meaningful in their lives…” (para. 40), and that it freed them “… from the constraints of everyday life…” (para. 36).
In the case of the WoW example given by Albrechtslund, power over the outcome of this proposed change was effective from the collective. However, this is not always the case in gaming cultures. Questions around the ownership and governance of games seems to be a hotly contested debate (Taylor, 2011, p. 378). Even though game developers have sought to exert their power over gaming communities by “region encoding” (p. 377) and “intellectual property (IP) and ownership rights” (p. 378), complex disputes occur when players are permitted to remix and modify a game (p.378). The fact that developers encourage and seek out such improvements from players casts a grey shadow over whose IP and creative work is in dispute. There are also issues surrounding the economics of financial transactions occurring offline, where players act as “game-currency sellers or [offer] power-leveling services of in-game goods, money, and services” (p. 378). These instances beg the question, ‘Who has the power and the right of governance in these situations?’ The law would be on the side of the game developers, but the answers to such a question is not so clear-cut in legal terms.
The economics of “commercial exchanges related to the in-game valuables” (Mäyrä, 2008, p. 139) presents yet another problem in that, such financial transactions can effectively ruin game play. It has been argued such “virtual property trading” (p. 139) and the enforcement the “property rights of players would create impossible responsibilities for online game producers to indefinitely maintain these characters and objects in their servers” (p.139). This raises an interesting line of inquiry: how much of the game’s value can be bought and sold, when there are varying definitions of value that may be attained via one’s imagination and personalised, meaningful exchanges via such a virtual experience? (p. 150)
Albrechstlund, A-M. (2011). Online identity crisis: Real ID on the World of Warcraft forums. First Monday, 16(7). Retrieved from http://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3624/3006
Mäyrä, F. (2008). The Real and the Game: Game Culture Entering the New Millennium. In F. Mäyrä, An Introduction to Game Studies (pp. 118-151): Sage. http://eres.lis.curtin.edu.au/cgi-bin/gw?url=dc60261282
Taylor, T. L. (2011). Internet and Games. In M. Consalvo & C. Ess (Eds.), The handbook of Internet studies (pp. 369-383). West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.