This dissertation explores how players of the Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), World of Warcraft, responded to in-game instances of sexism and racism before and after the Activision Blizzard lawsuit was made public. It also covers the responses of players to the lawsuit itself to see if player responses changed once the lawsuit was made public. These results illustrate if and how player responses may change regarding in-game social issues based on the real-world environment that the game is being created within. To establish what players are seeing in the game, I first analyzed the narratives of four major World of Warcraft characters to identify if sexist and racist story lines were utilized within the narrative. I then analyzed forum posts from players speaking on in-game sexism and racism before the lawsuit, player responses to the real world allegations against Activision Blizzard during the lawsuit, and the player discussions of in-game sexism and racism after the lawsuit. I then categorized the forum post responses into Eduardo Bonilla-Silva's (2018) racial frames. I found that players can recognize sexism and racism within the real world, but disconnect the real world from the virtual world when speaking on sexism and racism within the game. Therefore, players tend to deny in-game sexism and racism exist. Although there was slightly more recognition of sexism and racism in-game after the lawsuit, many responses remained the same as before the lawsuit. This study brings to light the disconnect between the real-world and the game world that players utilize to continue playing the games they enjoy while absolving themselves of responsibility for supporting the game and the company.
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Carter, J. Scott
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Devereaux, Taylor, "Digital Disconnect: The Relationship Between In-game and Real-world Issues in World of Warcraft" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1843.