One Self to Rule Them All: A Critical Discourse Analysis of French-Speaking Players’ Identity Construction in World of Warcraft

One Self to Rule Them All: A Critical Discourse Analysis of French-Speaking Players’ Identity Construction in World of Warcraft

Omar V. Rosas (University of Twente, The Netherlands & University of Namur, Belgium) and Grégory Dhen (Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-854-5.ch022
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Abstract

This chapter provides a critical discourse analysis of French-speaking players’ personal and collective identity construction in World of Warcraft. Based on sixteen semi-structured interviews conducted online, we have analyzed how players introduce their avatars, the extent to which avatars correspond to or differ from players’ real selves, and how players perceive and construct collective identity within their guilds. The study revealed that most players make use of avatar introduction as a rhetorical pretext to fabricate narratives of personal experiences related to their game practice. In addition, players’ discourses made it evident that avatars constituted either transparent (extensions) or translucent (enhancements) representations of their real selves. Finally, collective identity within guilds was mostly perceived and experienced through shared values that transcend the technical format of the game including sense of belonging, trust, respect, putting things into perspective, and modesty.
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Background

Recent research on identity construction and presentation in WoW has showed that the ways in which players digitally (re)present themselves via avatars or characters reveal core assumptions about their actual and idealized self-conceptions. In order to understand the effects of these assumptions on players’ avatar construction and game-based socialization, some researchers have examined how players create and negotiate their personal and social identity online by focusing on the role played by physical and personality traits (Ducheneaut, Yee, Nickell, & Moore, 2006; Bessière, Seay & Kiesler, 2007) as well as cultural and organizational models (Bainbridge, 2010a).

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