Being together, worlds apart: a virtual-worldly phenomenology

Human Studies (3):1-28 (2019)
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Abstract

Previous work in Game Studies has centered on several loci of investigation in seeking to understand virtual gameworlds. First, researchers have scrutinized the concept of the virtual world itself and how it relates to the idea of “the magic circle”. Second, the field has outlined various forms of experienced “presence”. Third, scholarship has noted that the boundaries between the world of everyday life and virtual worlds are porous, and that this fosters a multiplicity of identities as players identify both with themselves-offline and themselves-in-game. Despite widespread agreement that these topics are targets for research, so far those working on these topics do not have mutually agreed-upon framework. Here we draw upon the work of Alfred Schutz to take up this call. We provide a phenomenological framework which can be used to describe the phenomena of interest to Game Studies, as well as open new avenues of inquiry, in a way acceptable and useful to all. This helps to distinguish the core of the field from the supplemental theoretical and critical commitments which characterize diverse approaches within the field.

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