I propose that we begin to refer to MMORPG players as VARPers — Virtual Action Role Players. That way their escapism is more directly presented.
Nardi is an ethnographer. This is an ethnography. And it’s an interesting one, which is relieving. My Life as a Night Elf Priest has more in common with Go Nation than Millenial Monsters. As a first-hand source, Nardi provides valuable insight into Azeroth and its inhabitants — from those addicted to the universe to those who log in once every few days. Nardi addresses the linguistic and the cultural aspects of her time spent in-game, on learning the various different forms of chatspeak and slang and wrangling with the game’s interface. That is to say that Nardi dives in headfirst, but her commentary is, fundamentally, introductory.
I found myself enjoying the chat-log segments the most, as a Linguist, an internet denizen, and ex-VARPer (though my games of choice were Final Fantasy XI and XIV, not WoW). The snippets of dialogue and chat reminded me of similar interactions I have had in the past in similar formats; I ended up researching the linguistic evolution of slang and language-communities on Tumblr during my sophomore year, and as a result this field is particularly interesting to me. Nardi’s somewhat wide-eyed wonder at some of the (to me, at least) mundane aspects of internet speech reminded me of why the internet and its subcultures like WoW are so daunting and indecipherable to those uninitiated. For Nardi, I thank this perspective.
Though not much work has been done on the digital world by ethnographers, I feel these communities are wells of vast linguistic and sociocultural importance. I hope in our discussion that some of this gets brought up and discussed, as it is something I find myself personally invested in.
I’ve decided that I’d like to write about representation in games as previously planned — specifically focusing around the Atlus titles Catherine and the Persona series. As a result my primary sources will be Persona 4 Golden, the Persona 2 Duology, and Catherine, released on the PS3. I’ll be drawing from various outside sources as well, such as Midboss’s 2014 Documentary Gaming in Color. Various other texts, such as Lacan’s Mirror Stage and the compiled Sources of Japanese Tradition will be utilized to examine Japanese outlooks towards Minorities and Women in the contexts of Japanese blockbuster, Triple-A game development.