MS student Jaryd Hinch will defend his thesis, "Social Geographies of Warcraft: A discursive evaluation of a virtual world’s effects on its users".
Meeting ID: 775 2173 4666 Passcode: UVF7Lf
Abstract: Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game with an expansiveness, realness, and slew of opportunities that seem to parallel the real world. WoW also fosters social interactions with the players with content that requires collaboration, and thus has both player-game and player-player interactions. Current literature has examined these interactions within WoW’s virtual space, but there is an absence of studies connecting the two. This project seeks to further evaluate these interactions as well as their relationship with each other. Using LGBT+ players as a sample group, I employed interviews to learn how players perceive WoW’s virtual world and its conventions (e.g., portrayal of gender) and how the players interact with others. After coding the interview responses, I extracted themes of discourse from the responses to connect the two ideas. The results indicated there is a relationship to some degree of how a virtual world is constructed and the social behavior of the world’s users. Further, when presented with binaries (e.g., good and evil), players tend to create their own meaning rather than be confined to either-or options. This study explores the applications of social geography in a virtual setting and lays the groundwork for future virtual social geography studies.