Play Between Worlds – Taylor

In this ethnographic account of the MMORPG Everquest and its definitively techno-cultural community, Taylor traverses many crucial issues as she seeks to give an account of the practices and values of these players. Speaking as someone that has played their fair share of MMOG’s, Taylors account is an accurate description of the different types of players that inhabit a world such as Everquest. The differences between social players, individual players and power players and their unique practices is where this book really comes to life for me. It’s description of power play in particular and the innately theorycraft laden play style many players adopt (68) in order to push the boundaries of the game represent a form of play that is very similar to e-sports, a subject matter Taylor has since explored.
However Taylor also confronts many of the issues that pervade the online gaming world. Similar to her exploration of e-sports, she points out the innately unequal representation of woman in gameworlds such as Everquest and the profoundly male centric practise of playing these games that is alienating play for huge amounts of potential female players.

What really defined this book for me however was the focus on the social. How A MMORPG such as Everquest functions in a very similar manner to a social network (42) is an idea that has relevance in many gaming contexts. In my own experience, platforms such as Steam, Xbox live, Playstation Network, League of Legends lobbies, browser based games or gaming contact lists are all definably gaming centric. However a large part of their appeal is in their social dynamics and that is equal to the experience of a social network, the distinction between a social networking platform and a game disappears from this perspective and although Taylor only implicitly suggests it, it is a fundamentally crucial competent of online games.

EQ

Taylor, T, L. (2006) Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Gaming Culture, Cambridge: MIT Press.

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