Surveillant assemblages of governance in massively multiplayer online games: a comparative analysis

Aphra Kerr, Stefano De Paoli, Max Keatinge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper explores governance in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), one sub-sector of the digital games industry. Informed by media governance studies, Surveillance Studies, and game studies, this paper identifies five elements which form part of the system of governance in MMOGs. These elements are: game code and rules; game policies; company community management practices; player participatory practices; and paratexts. Together these governance elements function as a surveillant assemblage, which relies to varying degrees on lateral and hierarchical forms of surveillance, and the assembly of human and nonhuman elements.
Using qualitative mixed methods we examine and compare how these elements operate in three commercial MMOGs: Eve Online, World of Warcraft and Tibia. While peer and participatory surveillance elements are important, we identified two major trends in the governance of disruptive behaviours by the game companies in our case studies. Firstly, an increasing reliance on automated forms of dataveillance to control and punish game players, and secondly, increasing recourse to contract law and diminishing user privacy rights. Game players found it difficult to appeal the changing terms and conditions and they turned to creating paratexts outside of the game in an attempt to negotiate the boundaries of the surveillant assemblage. In the wider context of self-regulated governance systems these trends highlight the relevance of consumer rights, privacy, and data protection legislation to online games and the usefulness of bringing game studies and Surveillance Studies into dialogue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-336
Number of pages17
JournalSurvelliance & Society
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2014

Fingerprint

governance
surveillance
privacy
data protection
recourse
trend
appeal
legislation
dialogue
Law
industry
management
community

Cite this

@article{47738b57085b4b24936a171287792111,
title = "Surveillant assemblages of governance in massively multiplayer online games: a comparative analysis",
abstract = "This paper explores governance in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), one sub-sector of the digital games industry. Informed by media governance studies, Surveillance Studies, and game studies, this paper identifies five elements which form part of the system of governance in MMOGs. These elements are: game code and rules; game policies; company community management practices; player participatory practices; and paratexts. Together these governance elements function as a surveillant assemblage, which relies to varying degrees on lateral and hierarchical forms of surveillance, and the assembly of human and nonhuman elements.Using qualitative mixed methods we examine and compare how these elements operate in three commercial MMOGs: Eve Online, World of Warcraft and Tibia. While peer and participatory surveillance elements are important, we identified two major trends in the governance of disruptive behaviours by the game companies in our case studies. Firstly, an increasing reliance on automated forms of dataveillance to control and punish game players, and secondly, increasing recourse to contract law and diminishing user privacy rights. Game players found it difficult to appeal the changing terms and conditions and they turned to creating paratexts outside of the game in an attempt to negotiate the boundaries of the surveillant assemblage. In the wider context of self-regulated governance systems these trends highlight the relevance of consumer rights, privacy, and data protection legislation to online games and the usefulness of bringing game studies and Surveillance Studies into dialogue.",
author = "Aphra Kerr and {De Paoli}, Stefano and Max Keatinge",
year = "2014",
month = "6",
day = "17",
doi = "10.24908/ss.v12i3.4953",
language = "English",
volume = "12",
pages = "320--336",
journal = "Surveillance & Society",
issn = "1477-7487",
publisher = "Surveillance Studies Network",
number = "3",

}

Surveillant assemblages of governance in massively multiplayer online games : a comparative analysis. / Kerr, Aphra; De Paoli, Stefano; Keatinge, Max.

In: Survelliance & Society, Vol. 12, No. 3, 17.06.2014, p. 320-336.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Surveillant assemblages of governance in massively multiplayer online games

T2 - a comparative analysis

AU - Kerr, Aphra

AU - De Paoli, Stefano

AU - Keatinge, Max

PY - 2014/6/17

Y1 - 2014/6/17

N2 - This paper explores governance in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), one sub-sector of the digital games industry. Informed by media governance studies, Surveillance Studies, and game studies, this paper identifies five elements which form part of the system of governance in MMOGs. These elements are: game code and rules; game policies; company community management practices; player participatory practices; and paratexts. Together these governance elements function as a surveillant assemblage, which relies to varying degrees on lateral and hierarchical forms of surveillance, and the assembly of human and nonhuman elements.Using qualitative mixed methods we examine and compare how these elements operate in three commercial MMOGs: Eve Online, World of Warcraft and Tibia. While peer and participatory surveillance elements are important, we identified two major trends in the governance of disruptive behaviours by the game companies in our case studies. Firstly, an increasing reliance on automated forms of dataveillance to control and punish game players, and secondly, increasing recourse to contract law and diminishing user privacy rights. Game players found it difficult to appeal the changing terms and conditions and they turned to creating paratexts outside of the game in an attempt to negotiate the boundaries of the surveillant assemblage. In the wider context of self-regulated governance systems these trends highlight the relevance of consumer rights, privacy, and data protection legislation to online games and the usefulness of bringing game studies and Surveillance Studies into dialogue.

AB - This paper explores governance in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), one sub-sector of the digital games industry. Informed by media governance studies, Surveillance Studies, and game studies, this paper identifies five elements which form part of the system of governance in MMOGs. These elements are: game code and rules; game policies; company community management practices; player participatory practices; and paratexts. Together these governance elements function as a surveillant assemblage, which relies to varying degrees on lateral and hierarchical forms of surveillance, and the assembly of human and nonhuman elements.Using qualitative mixed methods we examine and compare how these elements operate in three commercial MMOGs: Eve Online, World of Warcraft and Tibia. While peer and participatory surveillance elements are important, we identified two major trends in the governance of disruptive behaviours by the game companies in our case studies. Firstly, an increasing reliance on automated forms of dataveillance to control and punish game players, and secondly, increasing recourse to contract law and diminishing user privacy rights. Game players found it difficult to appeal the changing terms and conditions and they turned to creating paratexts outside of the game in an attempt to negotiate the boundaries of the surveillant assemblage. In the wider context of self-regulated governance systems these trends highlight the relevance of consumer rights, privacy, and data protection legislation to online games and the usefulness of bringing game studies and Surveillance Studies into dialogue.

U2 - 10.24908/ss.v12i3.4953

DO - 10.24908/ss.v12i3.4953

M3 - Article

VL - 12

SP - 320

EP - 336

JO - Surveillance & Society

JF - Surveillance & Society

SN - 1477-7487

IS - 3

ER -