Monday, March 31, 2014

Announcing April’s SIMLab Brown Bag talk: Investigating a MMOG community through a social justice framework

Time/Place: April 7th, 2014 @12pm, SIMLab (SOC 016)

Speaker: Kelly Bergstrom, York University

As with all games, Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) are a voluntary leisure activity. However, the voluntary nature of play does not necessarily mean these gameworlds are equally open to all.  To illustrate barriers to participation I present a case study of EVE Online, a space-themed MMOG with an extremely homogenous player community consisting of primarily economically advantaged white males. Drawing on four years of data collection including participant observation, surveys, interviews, and content analysis of community-created texts, I document how marginalized groups – in particular women and people of colour – are inadvertently and/or actively discouraged from participating in this popular MMOG.  And yet, this lack of engagement is held up by existing community members as evidence of women’s lack of interest, which in turn reinforces gender and race-based stereotypes about MMOGs and the people who opt to play them. This investigation addresses a significant gap in current research on MMOGs, which to date has yet to substantially engage in questions about who does not play online games and their reasons for disengagement. 

Speaker bio:
Kelly Bergstrom is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at York University and currently holds a Doctoral Fellowship from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Her research falls into overlapping areas of interest: incivility (e.g. trolling, griefing, harassment, etc.), (dis)engagement in online communities, and the ways in which gender stereotypes are replicated in and through digital culture.


For more details:
Join us for the livestream:
Inquiries about this event or SIMLab may be directed to Dr. Florence Chee:


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