Author

Jacob Rusczek

Defense Date

7-15-2015

Graduation Date

2015

Availability

Immediate Access

Submission Type

dissertation

Degree Name

PhD

Department

Psychology

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Eva Simms

Committee Member

Will Adams

Committee Member

Lori Koelsch

Keywords

MMORPG, Online Gaming, Phenomenology, Technology, Video Games, World of Warcraft

Abstract

This dissertation presents an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the experience of being engaged in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). These games have become increasingly popular over the past decade and have earned the reputation of being highly engrossing or even addicting. In this study, five long-term players were interviewed in person. For a portion of the interviews, the researcher observed the participants playing their games. The interviews were transcribed and subsequently analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis, which yielded individual and shared themes. Individual themes are first presented, which provides a rich sense of each participant's particular way of engaging with his or her game. Shared themes across participants are then detailed, with an emphasis on one prominent theme common to all participants: investment. This theme revealed that engagement in an MMORPG is structured upon investing time and effort in order to earn rewards. These findings are consistent with the position that MMORPGs are attractive to players because they offer the opportunity to engage in pursuits congruent with modernist ideologies, such as capitalism and instrumental rationality. However, my participants also invested in ways that exceeded modernist values, such as forming relationships with other players and engaging with the narrative and thematic dimensions of their games.

Format

PDF

Language

English

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