Analyzing Social Identity (Re) Production: Identity Liminal Events in MMORPGs

Javier A Salazar


Within Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) studies, there are many papers dedicated to player typologies. This is especially true when it comes to themes that directly or indirectly touch the social identity of opposing groups of players: “roleplayers” vs. “PvPers”, “helpers vs. griefers”, “power gamers” vs. “casual gamers”, etc. Every time researchers label a group of players as, for example, "roleplayers" they are indeed assuming the existence of a social identity of this group. However, in MMORPG literature there are very few pages dedicated to theorizing about social identity. In this paper, I provide practical examples of how social identity in MMORPGS can be analyzed through the application of Salazar's (2006) social identity (re)production theoretical model. The basic unit of analysis is what in this paper will be called an Identity Liminal Event (ILE), or specific MMORPG events on which the constitutive elements of social identity can be observed. The examples to be studied in this paper are ILEs taken from the World of Warcraft and Star Wars Galaxies MMORPGs. To conclude, the paper offers several suggestions for implementing this theoretical model for further studying MMORPG events.


social identity; role play; MMORPG; WoW; SWG

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