Edited by Christoph Beat Graber and Mira Burri-Nenova
Chapter 4: The Concept and Conditions of Governance in Massively Multiplayer Online Games
Sal Humphreys* INTRODUCTION This chapter is about governance in massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). It explores a number of areas where tactics of control are mobilised – by developers in the design process, by publishers through community management and legal practices and by players in their participatory behaviour. In the field of online media studies the concepts of convergence and participatory media have become commonplace, but the ways in which the practices associated with them are reorganising and shaping social and economic relations have not yet been fully explored. MMOGs are engaging social media that are growing in popularity and significance. They are exemplary online applications – social, commercial environments that are fun and often profitable. They represent a convergence of more than just technologies. They are both media product and media service. Participants not only buy the game, but also pay subscription fees to gain continuous access to the game world.1 Publishers not only manage the intellectual property of their product(s) but also the ongoing community relations within the virtual worlds they maintain. Production is not completed at launch, but is a continuous process, with content produced by players as well as by paid developers, and with social networks generated by players becoming a source of economic value. * Thanks to the Faculty of Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology for supporting the research for this chapter and to Dr Deb King of Flinders University for valuable feedback. 1 Some MMOGs operate under different business models, for instance offering free access...
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