4-3 | Communities of Play: Emergent Cultures in multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds

Book Review

Communities of Play: Emergent Cultures in multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds

Celia Pearce and Artemesia
Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 2009. Forwards, illustrations, references, index. 327 pp. $29.95 cloth. ISBN: 9780262162579

by Jason Begy

First Paragraph:

Celia Pearce’s Communities of Play is a fascinating, wide-ranging study relevant to anyone interested in online games and worlds, ethnography, or game studies. The book tells the story of a group of players who originally met in the massively multiplayer online game (MMO) Uru Prologue and their efforts to stay together after the game closed. This work is significant for three major reasons. First, it is a study of the processes that give rise to emergent behavior in MMOs, a topic of relevance to both game designers and sociologists. Second, the book is also one of very few studies addressing how a virtual world’s closing affects its players. Finally, it contains an insightful analysis of the perks and perils of doing ethnography in an online community, an analysis that is invaluable for anyone considering a similar project.