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Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft® Reader [Hardcover]

Hilde G. Corneliussen , Jill Walker Rettberg
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 18, 2008 0262033704 978-0262033701

World of Warcraft is the world's most popular massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), with (as of March 2007) more than eight million active subscribers across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, who play the game an astonishing average of twenty hours a week. This book examines the complexity of World of Warcraft from a variety of perspectives, exploring the cultural and social implications of the proliferation of ever more complex digital gameworlds. The contributors have immersed themselves in the World of Warcraft universe, spending hundreds of hours as players (leading guilds and raids, exploring moneymaking possibilities in the in-game auction house, playing different factions, races, and classes), conducting interviews, and studying the game design--as created by Blizzard Entertainment, the game's developer, and as modified by player-created user interfaces. The analyses they offer are based on both the firsthand experience of being a resident of Azeroth and the data they have gathered and interpreted. The contributors examine the ways that gameworlds reflect the real world--exploring such topics as World of Warcraft as a "capitalist fairytale" and the game's construction of gender; the cohesiveness of the gameworld in terms of geography, mythology, narrative, and the treatment of death as a temporary state; aspects of play, including "deviant strategies" perhaps not in line with the intentions of the designers; and character--both players' identification with their characters and the game's culture of naming characters. The varied perspectives of the contributors--who come from such fields as game studies, textual analysis, gender studies, and postcolonial studies--reflect the breadth and vitality of current interest in MMOGs.Hilde G. Corneliussen and Jill Walker Rettberg are both Associate Professors of Humanistic Informatics at the University of Bergen, Norway.


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Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft® Reader + The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World + World of Warcraft and Philosophy: Wrath of the Philosopher King (Popular Culture and Philosophy)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Multidisciplinary in their perspectives, thoughtful in their analyses, and above all deeply and collaboratively engaged with the online world whereof they speak, the contributors to this 'World of Warcraft Reader' have fashioned not only a valuable introduction to one of the core texts of the new digital literacy but a working model of the most rewarding forms this emergent literacy may take."--Julian Dibbell, author of Play Money: Or How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot



"With its millions of users around the globe, World of Warcraft points to a future cyberspace far more fantastic and revolutionary than we had ever imagined: entire human societies immersed for thousands of hours in pursuit of fictional dragons. The essays in this book reveal the differences and similarities found in the human societies of World of Warcraft, explosive combinations that will shock our century as game worlds come to dominate daily life."--Edward Castronova, Indiana University

(Edward Castronova)

"The authors represent a new breed of academic scholar, researchers whodon't just study games, but play them as well. The essays reflect theirintimate knowledge of the game, the many hours logged into the digitalworld of Azeroth, and the deep love/hate relationship with World ofWarcraft that every player knows so well. Because they are in factplayers, the authors' joy and excitement for the game shines throughevery essay in the collection."--Eric Zimmerman, Co-Founder of Gamelab, and co-author of Rulesof Play, and The Game Design Reader

(Eric Zimmerman)

"It's a delight to read so many astute game studies scholars approach one game, in one volume. World of Warcraft Reader provides an invaluable comparative resource for the field."--Mary Flanagan, Department of Film and Media Studies, Hunter College, and co-editor of re: skin

(Mary Flanagan)

"It's a delight to read so many astute game studies scholars approach one game, in one volume. Digital Play, Culture, and Identity provides an invaluable comparative resource for the field." Mary Flanagan , Department of Film and Media Studies, Hunter College, and co-editor of re: skin



"The authors represent a new breed of academic scholar, researchers who don't just study games, but play them as well. The essays reflect their intimate knowledge of the game, the many hours logged into the digital world of Azeroth, and the deep love/hate relationship with World of Warcraft that every player knows so well. Because they are in fact players, the authors' joy and excitement for the game shines through every essay in the collection." Eric Zimmerman , Co-Founder of Gamelab, and co-author of Rules of Play, and The Game Design Reader



"With its millions of users around the globe, World of Warcraft points to a future cyberspace far more fantastic and revolutionary than we had ever imagined: entire human societies immersed for thousands of hours in pursuit of fictional dragons. The essays in this book reveal the differences and similarities found in the human societies of World of Warcraft, explosive combinations that will shock our century as game worlds come to dominate daily life." Edward Castronova , Indiana University

About the Author

Hilde G. Corneliussen is Associate Professor of Humanistic Informatics at the University of Bergen, Norway.



Jill Walker Rettberg is Associate Professor of Humanistic Informatics at the University of Bergen, Norway.


Product Details

  • Series: World of Warcraft Reader
  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (April 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262033704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262033701
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 7.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,692,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm Jill Walker Rettberg, a professor of Digital Culture at the University of Bergen in Norway, and I do research on how people tell stories online. I'm affiliated with the Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies. I've been a research blogger since October 2000.

Customer Reviews

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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven and incomplete, despite its strengths May 20, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Like many anthologies, this one is uneven. Nevertheless, it contains some very interesting articles, especially about gender and culture as expressed in World of Warcraft.

My problem with the book, however, is that it purports to have a sort of dual viewpoint, being that all the academics writing about World of Warcraft here are also players. The problem is that none of them, as far as I can tell, have achieved level cap and immersed themselves in the endgame.

Like many MMORPGs, World of Warcraft is many games all rolled into one. There is the leveling game (where you take a new character and head off into the world to have adventures, gradually gaining strength and power as you defeat various challenges). There is the player-vs-player game, where you engage in battles against other players, either in groups or solo. There is the professions game, where you learn to create items in the game and get gradually better and better at doing so, until you can (if you wish) create a business providing services for other players. There is the economic game, where the goal you set yourself involves making as much game money as possible. There are games related to earning what are called Achievements (although these did not exist when this book was being written), and thereby earning yourself titles and/or items such as special in-game pets or mounts.

And there is the raiding endgame. In the raiding endgame, you reach the level cap and play around in small group encounters, gaining skill and gear until you are ready to join larger groups of players, setting off into some of the most intricately designed content in the game. The encounters there are complex and require serious coordination between largish groups of players to defeat.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Well, this book surprised me and it's one of the best books, if not the best, about anthropology and "virtual worlds". This is because the essays in the book are relevant to academic discussions of anthropology. Postcolonialism, Gender issues, Rites of Passage, and more topics are well explained in the context of World of Warcraft, creating a very good link between any videogame and the theorical studies of the discipline.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just What I Wanted July 2, 2008
Format:Hardcover
I ordered this book to help me write my thesis on online interaction, leaning towards writing about MMORPGs. It was just what I wanted. The range of topics is really good and each article is insightful. I really look forward to reading more from these authors. Its certainly helped open up a few more avenues for research!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review by the Berglund Center for Internet Studies April 18, 2011
Format:Hardcover
Editor's note: The author of this review purports to be an avatar from the on-line game World of Warcraft

There are currently more than ten million gamers real worldwide who live partially in TRW and partially in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game WoW. There are also many millions more 'Toons like me, who, while preferring the relatively orderly World of Warcraft, where at least you know who your enemies are and there is a direct relationship between work and return, occasionally cross over into TRW for amusement, if nothing else. I had hoped from the subtitle of this work, as I am sure those millions will as well, that it might be a useful accompaniment to the "game."

The book does have tremendous merit. Its editors, Hilde G. Corneliussen and Jill Walker Rettberg, are Associate Professors of Humanistic Informatics at the University of Bergen, Norway. As I am myself essentially a bundle of Humanistic Informatics, this seemed to me a most promising intellectual venue from which to review our joint interest, the intersection between The World of Warcraft and TRW.

For a full review see Interface Volume 9 Issue 1.
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Online/Offline Dating...?
No, I'm afraid it doesn't - but that's pretty amusing that there's actually a website for World of Warcraft dating! Thanks for the link!

You can see the whole table of contents here:
http://jilltxt.net/?p=1962
Dec 11, 2007 by Jill Walker Rettberg |  See all 2 posts
Introduction and table of contents available at MIT Press Be the first to reply
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