Discipline & Punish: The Game

I sat in on a fascinating panel on surveillance in MMOGs (massively multiplayer online games) at the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) annual meeting in Vancouver last week:

DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH: THE GAME
ABSTRACT:  This panel brings together scholars from different perspectives in game studies to reflect on issues of surveillance and how technologies of surveillance have become embedded within the spaces of massively multiplayer online games.  Because surveillance in these spaces can be absolute, with every character’s movement, communication, and decision logged, recorded, and subject to reproduction, it becomes increasingly important to understand both the productive uses of such technologies, as well as the potential effects on how players perceive the worlds they play and such experiences might transfer to broader questions of surveillance in contemporary society.  Papers will address these issues from the following perspectives: The uses of surveillance within game worlds in programs such as high-end raiding mods that allow players to monitor, record, and catalogue each other players’ gameplay; the notion of  the “databased self,” as a means to understand the production of identity in relation to material-discursive databases within the space of virtual, persistent online worlds; the ethical implications for data collection models within virtual worlds and the problems and possibilities of using large scale data collection to analyze the social dynamics of online communities; and reflections on how mechanisms of disciplinary power are inscribed into virtual spaces as the result of continued and sustained systems of monitoring.

The Databased Self: Perfect Surveillance in the Age of Virtual Worlds
Bart Simon, Concordia University

Modded Play: Constructing Collaboration …and Surveillance in World of Warcraft
T.L. Taylor, IT University of Copenhagen

Genealogies of Play: Surveillance, Discipline, and the Training of the Virtual Body, or How to Make a Docile Avatar
Douglas Thomas, University of Southern California

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