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Community is a Verb: Stories from New Eden

Joshua W Rivers (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Pride United)
Presentation type: 

Millions of light years away, yet simultaneously located in ones and zeros on a computer server in London is a star cluster named New Eden. Home to nearly forty-thousand sentient beings who fly spaceships four-hundred times the size of an American space shuttle, New Eden is a thriving world, a virtual world brought to life by an Icelandic game development company, CCP Games (cf. Pearce, 2009). With the rise of online gaming, myriad virtual worlds have come into being, consequently questioning the common understanding of reality and community. As Montoya writes, “community is a task, a struggle, a verb,” (2013, S48); nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the politicking, history, and current events of the world of New Eden. Far away amongst the ruin-strewn battlefields and enormous asteroid belts of this star cluster lays a challenge to the notion of community as something out-there, stable, and bounded. Against the backdrop of an ethnographic exploration into the daily actions of New Eden’s capsuleers, with a focus on the members of a budding industrial corporation, WhamBam Inc., this project reveals the complicated process and task of community. Drawing on concepts from science and technology studies, as well as anthropology, this study analyzes and deconstructs static and essentialist notions of community while revealing its active nature. In demonstrating the new frontiers of theory that virtual worlds research opens up, this study not only contributes to a novel re-conceptualization of community, but also highlights the rich contribution research on video games can make to broader academic discourses.

Scheduled on: 
Thursday, November 3, 1:45 pm to 3:00 pm

About the presenter

Joshua W Rivers

I am a graduate student in the Research Master’s of Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam with a background in gender studies, STS, and anthropology. An avid video games researcher, my current research includes an ethnographic exploration of gaymer communities in virtual spaces and smaller qualitative studies on community as a concept.

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