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Ruling the virtual world. Governance in massively multiplayer online games

Sage Publications
Publication Date
  • 200199 Communication And Media Studies Not Elsewhere Classified
  • 200200 Cultural Studies
  • 200212 Screen And Media Culture
  • 190300 Journalism And Professional Writing
  • Computer Games
  • Governance
  • Mmog
  • Online Games
  • Social Software
  • Video Games
  • Design
  • Economics
  • Law


This article explores governance and control in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs). It examines areas where tactics of control are mobilized: by developers through design processes, by publishers through community management and legal practices and by players through participatory practices. As people with access to online technologies come to live more of their social lives (and work lives) in online environments, and to construct identities and communities in proprietary spaces, the terms under which they do so become increasingly important. In a context where economic value resides in intellectual property and immaterial labour, and where social networks have economic value extracted from them, the corporate practices which harness this value and the responses of participants become interesting for sociocultural and economic reasons. Using EverQuest and World of Warcraft as case studies, this article traces the flows of power between publishers, developers and players in the networked production of MMOGs.

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