McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Russell A. Walsh
Baudrillard, Everquest, Lacan, online community, online identity, online relationships
The following is a study of online relationships and identity formation in Everquest, a multiplayer online role-playing game. Using a phenomenological and reflexive approach, the study seeks to explicate the attractions of this type of online forum, which draws hundreds of thousands of players who spend many hours each week playing the game. Three Everquest players' experiences are considered in light of literature from mainstream psychological, social constructionist, psychodynamic, and cyborg theory, with special focus on the players' reports of the dialogue between player and character, and of the nature of their relationships in Everquest. Subjects participated in a non-directive, qualitative interview and submitted and discussed gameplay logs. Findings challenge the notion that these players' online identities are escapist paradoxes of their offline personae, but highlight the ways in which their ego-ideal colors and limits their online identifications. The participants' ambivalence about the limits of Everquest relationships is also explored, especially such as the Everquest community might be understood as an example of hyperreality structuring the experience of the real. Finally, suggestions for further research in the area are suggested.
Bortle, J. (2005). Games People Play: Identity and Relationships in an Online Role-Playing Game (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/342