The Dark side of World of Warcraft: a critical reading of the state of ‘the other’ in World of Warcraft

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    This article presents a critical reading of the state of ‘the other’ in MMOGs in this case World of Warcraft (WoW) through an investigation of how relationships between players change along with changes in the general spatial design of the overall game world design. This investigation is concerned with shifts in the spatial design from classic WoW to later expansions. Especially with emphasis on the state of ‘the other’ and how changes in the spatial design undermines the disciplining power structure between players.
    The first part of this analysis’ sets off from investigating how players understand, perceive or conceptualise fellow players in-side the game world. The analysis of ‘the other’ in WoW rests upon Jean-Paul Sartre’s phenomenological description of ‘the other’ through ‘the look’ in Being and Nothingness (1992). According to Sartre do living beings become aware of themselves through the look of ‘the other’. ‘The look’ can following this argument be perceived as an instrument of (self)-becoming. Becoming aware of ourselves through the look of ‘the other’ also means ‘the other’ holds a formative power over us which can be understood as an instrument of control, an always present way to exercise power whether we are aware of it or not or intend to exercise this power. The second part of the analysis expands the investigation by relating it to the general spatial design of WoW. In this perspective is the look of ‘the other’ no longer limited to a direct observation. It can be understood as embedded in architectural layout of game world. The ‘look’ of the other can emanate from buildings as Sartre points out in Being and Nothingness or as Michel Foucault teaches us in Discipline and Punish (1995) when he describes how ‘the look’ works as a social disciplining power embedded in the architectural design or as this paper argues in the spatial design of WoW. The analysis of ‘the look’ embedded in the spatial design of WoW’s game world and how it influences players perception of each other rests on Foucault’s epistemological insights.
    The juxtaposition of Sartre’s phenomenology and Foucault’s epistemology not only serve to describe the state of ‘the other’ and the social disciplining impact of the spatial design on player perception and behaviour in WoW, it also aims at showing a connection between Sartre and Foucault’s analysis of ‘the look’. This leads to the tentative conclusion that ‘the look’ in Sartre’s phenomenology is a function of the ‘other’, while it is a function of the spatial design within the epistemology of Foucault.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    Event8th Philosophy of Computer Games Conference - Istandbul, Turkey
    Duration: 12. Nov 201415. Nov 2014


    Conference8th Philosophy of Computer Games Conference


    • World of Warcraft, Sartre, phenomenology, Foucault, epistemology


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