What Happens when a Cyberworld Ends? The case of There.com

Márquez Israel V.
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

This paper is the first in a series presenting findings from a wider ethnography study of players from There.com and what they did when this virtual world closed on March 9th, 2010. Studies of online games and virtual worlds (or cyberworlds, as I prefer to call them) tend to focus in player activities during the time these spaces are open, assuming them as timeless places. But what happens when a cyberworld ends? How do players react to its closure and what they do next? Only a few scholars have investigated such critical events (Pearce 2009; Papargyris and Poulymenakou 2009; Consalvo and Begy 2012) and their findings suggest a determination by players to keep playing together after the closure. Players do not simply disperse and stop playing when a cyberworld ends but they actively work to form groups and relocate their activities elsewhere. I followed the movement of There.com players —or “thereians”, as they refer to themselves— across various cyberworlds, social networks, and forums after There.com closed. They actively worked to keep together gathering in forums, creating Facebook groups, uploading videos on YouTube, and travelling to other cyberworlds such as Second Life, Onverse, Kaneva, Twinity, etc., trying to translate their play identities and activities in these new spaces. In this paper I will focus on the player responses to the There.com closure and what they did after the end of the world.


The Similar Eye: Proxy Life and Public Space in the MMORPG

Oliver Julian Holland
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

Despite offering themselves as universes vastly alternative to our own, the majority of 3D Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games work to a strict profi le of reward systems which serve to group players and places around sets of action types. In contradiction to the promised inexhaustibility of a "VR," today's MMORPGs are designed and held together by amplified constructions of passage rights, role archetypes, resource management and the threat of death. Yet MMORPGs are by far the preferred "virtual" experience today. Statistics are revealing ongoing and consistent growth in MMORPG gaming. We are seeing MMORPGs succeed as busy cultural landscapes within a network infrastructure originally designed to support transfer of scientific papers, a framework often criticized for being too pointillistic in nature to support the complex needs of human interaction (let alone “public space”). Generations of scholars and artists have dedicated plenty of thought to what constitutes public space, so just what makes us believe that some game developers can even come close to manifesting it in a virtual setting? This paper illustrates how and why we must begin to think of the MMORPG as a public space. More importantly it provides tools for thinking how this rich platform for human interaction is actually produced.


‘Remembering How You Died’: Memory, Death and Temporality in Videogames [Extended Abstract]

Mukherjee Souvik
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Death is an intrinsic part of gameplay. On considering the role of killing, dying and negotiating the 'undead' in videogames, one cannot be faulted for noting in them an obsessive engagement with the act of dying. It is almost a prerequisite that the player's avatar has to 'die' many times in the process of unravelling the plot. Instead of the traditional tying and untying (desis and lusis) of narrative plots, held sacrosanct since Aristotle, videogame narratives are characterised by 'dying and undying'. The sense of an ending, as literary theorist Sir Frank Kermode calls it, is constantly frustrated by its absence in videogames. Western conceptions of ending, whether Hellenic or Judaeo- Christian, are based on telos and a linear temporality. In a culture where death is a grim finality and where resurrection is only possible by the divine, videogames seem to shockingly trivialise death by adding to it the perspective of multiplicity. Videogame theorist, Gonzalo Frasca, observes that from the perspective of real life, this reversibility can be seen as something that trivializes the "sacred" value of life. This paper argues against such a conception and in doing so, it shows how videogames point to a different but equally serious view of death and endings that has so far been largely ignored due to an occidental bias.


Apocalypse the Spielberg Way: Representations of Death and Ethics in Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers and the Videogame Medal of Honor: Frontline

Kingsepp Eva
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

“Authenticity” is an issue central to Steven Spielberg in his re-creations of World War II. But while the films are (hyper)realistic also in their representation of death, this is not the case in the videogames. Does this suggest anything about contemporary society’s view of killing, dying and death? In my paper I study death and ethics in Saving Private Ryan, the TV series Band of Brothers, and the video game Medal of Honor: Frontline (2002), all sharing the same topic: the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. The differences indicate an ambiguity in the notion of authenticity as well as different strategies of handling ethical questions.