Playing “Nice”: What Online Gaming Can Teach Us about Multiculturalism

Playing “Nice”: What Online Gaming Can Teach Us about Multiculturalism

Melinda Jacobs (Level Up Media, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-833-0.ch003
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Within the Internet, a range of international and multicultural communities abound, especially within the context of interactive online games known as Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). The clashing of cultures in one particular MMORPG, Omerta, has caused many problems within the related online community. These conflicts have led to online instances of culturalism – discrimination based upon cultural-mindset – within this international online community (Jacobs, 2009). This chapter examines the following questions: Do players in international online gaming environments have the right to discriminate based on cultural attitudes and perceptions, or should a player’s right to not be discriminated against dominate in such international contexts? And how can multiculturalism be successfully managed in international online spaces?
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Culture And Conflict

The general idea behind multiculturalism is that several independently different cultures should be able to coexist on peaceful and equal terms within a single territory. This concept thus exists in opposition to the idea of having a need for a solitary national culture (i.e., nationalism) in order to achieve the same results. In theory multiculturalism seems to be the best approach to humanity’s quest for equality, as its dogma is grounded in the principal belief that no culture is superior to another culture (Parekh, 2000). In practice, however, this objective appears to be not as feasible as the strength of multicultural communities often wavers and might eventually tip to the point of total collapse.

Two recent examples of this kind of collapse can be seen in cultural conflicts within the Netherlands and within Cyprus. In both of these instances, different cultural affiliations have been thrown together within a single country while the members of each group are still encouraged to keep their cultural identity strong. The negative results of such situations have ranged from the development of further distinction between the cultures to violence and even legal chaos.

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