The Real World in a Geographical Imagery: World of Warcraft as Playful Cartography?

Risultato della ricerca: Conference contribution


World of Warcraft (WoW) is an extremely well-known and wide-spread virtual universe, populated by millions of people living, as of 2014, in 244 different countries, and so coming from different cultures. The game can be considered the final result of a half-century of growing interest in fantasy and virtual worlds; starting from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In the passage from book to videogame, fantasy has become an immersive experience that captures the player and forces him or her to revise their idea of how the world works. Everyone can read these worlds as simple games or, rather, through multifarious levels that show the connections between reality and virtuality. Our paper aims at analysing World of Warcraft through the points of view of critical geography (Minca, 2001), popular geopolitics (Dittmer and Dodds, 2008) and post-colonial studies (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 1998).During the last decade, there has been quite a strong interest in the way World of Warcraft shapes social relationships and reflects the social construction of our world (Corneliussen and Rettberg, 2008; Bainbridge, 2010; Aupers, 2015). However, although a few scholars (e.g. Langer, 2008) sometimes used the post-colonial approach to discuss the representation of ethnicity in this game, we believe that further investigations should enquire the relationships between post-colonialism and cartography in World of Warcraft. The main question we want to debate in the paper is whether WoW digital maps are still embedded in a traditional, Western or European cartographic reason (Olsson, 2007) or if, on the contrary, they enable the players to visualise and map the game world of Azeroth in a plural way; according to the post-colonial, feminist and qualitative framework of giving a voice to non-dominant narratives. In other terms, are WoW maps able to represent the cultural complexity of Azeroth, including the often antithetical points of view of each game ‘race’? Do these maps allow players to get a positioning within the geography of Azeroth? We will attempt to answer these questions through the deconstruction of the narratives of the game and through its visual and cartographic apparatus, along with the use of qualitative techniques of analysis, such as qualitative semi-structured interviews with members of the European community of World of Warcraft.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteCharting the Digital: Discourse, Disruption, Design, Detours. Conference Proceedings
Numero di pagine2
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016


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