Cyborgs, Cyberspace and Reality
The purpose of my research is to bring an academic understanding to the phenomenon of online gaming communities, the sociological effect of technology looking at online communities. Using World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment, 2001) as an online medium, I analyzed the online experience on its own terms and discovered the culture that exists in this virtual world and the community that has developed around and inside of what some would call an "alternate reality". I wanted to bring more awareness to the sociological community as to the extent of this massive video gaming population. There is a depth and complexity of these online relationships that need a voice within the sociological field, especially with regards to the need for involvement in community developing technologies, at the level of video game entertainment, as well as the idea of embodiment that this reality comes to represent to the user. My research explains how online communities are interacting within mediums using World of Warcraft as an example. The research identifies, some of these users, their individual and collective experiences, and shows that this is an embodied experience through an in-depth analysis of different aspects of the game. Despite the outdated persona of an anti-social socially awkward "geek" that is connected to people that play World of Warcraft, these players represent a part of a larger cultural shift that society is making from traditional communities that do not use electronic mediums to stay connected to those that utilize the online realm as a social vehicle.