Review by Angela Harrison: | "Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft® Reader" Edited by Corneliussen, Hilde G. and Jill Walker Rettberg
MIT Press, 2008 ISBN: 978-0262033701 304 pp. $31.95 | Web-Article Design by Jeff Hewitt

"Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader" - Corneliussen, Hilde G. and Jill Walker Rettberg (Editors)

Reviewed by Angela Harrison

Introduction | Culture | World | Play | Identity
Conclusion / Final Assessment | References

Conclusion/Final Assessment

This text breaks fine ground for scholarly study on popular games. It is clearly meant for scholars and students who are not familiar with the game, as it contains a glossary of terms in the back and a fair number of screenshots as visual representations of what is being written about. Many of the essay writers also go out of their way to explain terms, concepts, and people, places and things in the game so that the reader does not become confused. For someone like myself, who is familiar with the game, this feature is cumbersome; however, I could see how it would be extremely helpful for those who have no or only minimal experience with the game. Another strength of this text is the variety of approaches used. The editors of this collection state that they desired a wide breadth of approaches to the game in order to accommodate its complexity. This text accomplishes the multi-disciplinary, multi-theoretical approach and uses a number of research methods. Such a complex approach allows for a wide variety of opinions and ideas to be expressed about the game and leaves much material open for discussion.

Though the text has much to offer, it still has a couple of problematic features. One is the way it is divided. Many of the categories overlap with one another, and it would have been more effective to see more disparity between the chapters. The editors state that not all aspects of the game can be covered, which is an understandable statement, but the sections on "Play" and "Identity" have some topics that could be interchangeable with one another, and the section on "World" tends to shift into cultural territory at times. While it is good that all of these categories inform one another, a sharper division drawn between the sections would allow for a truly wide approach. For instance, a section on communication in game instead of a small section of a chapter on role-playing would have added an entirely new dimension to the book. Also, the editors claim that contributing scholars represent a wide variety of nationalities, but most of them are European. A wider variety of scholars also could show different attitudes toward the game that may not be expressed through the small sample of scholars given.

Overall, this text is a great starting point for discussion about not just Warcraft but games in general. The multiple approaches and research methods hat are used in this volume could be reproduced for studies of other games as well, thus opening a new dialogue about games and their importance in our lives, on the cultural level and beyond.

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