The Constitution of Collective Memory in Virtual Game Worlds

Anthony Papargyris, Angeliki Poulymenakou

Abstract


In this paper, we explore the constitution of collective memory in virtual game worlds. Based on ethnographic data gathered during a three year participatory observation in two Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), we study the collective practices, histories, memories, and identities that the members of two large guilds engaged and practice. Research findings indicate that the constitution of collective memory and identity of a virtual community drastically differentiates form regular communities in the physical reality. This is due to the issues of cultural heterogeneity, the interpretation of the virtual world’s reality, the envisioning of other members ‘true’ identity, and the apprehension of circumstanced actions and events (i.e., historical context) taking place inside a virtual game world. In order to overcome such obstacles, members of a MMOG virtual community make extensive use of peripheral discussions using metaphors and analogical reasoning, while in order to preserve their collective memory and identity, they instrumentally rely on war stories (historical narratives), cases of personality checks (member and individual roles), and other communicative practices for manipulating and reshaping collective memories (i.e. misinformation though propaganda).

Keywords


MMOG; Virtual Game Worlds; collective memory; persistence

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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org