Working Papers: René Glas

René’s paper, Playing Another Game: Twinking in World of Warcraft investigates one the more controversial player practices in MMORPG’s, twinking, not in terms of value judgment but as a play form negotiating, working against and even transforming a MMORPG’s intended structure and design.

[For those who can’t wait til René’s paper to find out what is twinking? NOTE: The term’s specific meaning differs depending on the game’s genre, among other things, as this analysis will surely show.]

Making use of participatory ethnographic observations of World of Warcraft’s particular forms of twinking, this devious behavior is discussed as being luxury play, dominance play, transformative play and standardized play, each form having its own influence on the way these virtual worlds are experienced by the player community and, notably, twinkers themselves.
Rene is doing his PhD and working as a lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

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4 responses to “Working Papers: René Glas

  1. Ehy, juts a suggestion: why don’t publish the paper before the event?, so that debate could start on the Internet.

  2. Your interest is much appreciated! I think the various reasons for not circulating the full papers on the web will become clear as their descriptions appear, but basically, it has to do with the work-in-progress status of the pieces. Discussing them at an earlier stage as we will do on the 22nd has the advantage that the work is still ‘open’ to input, but it also means it is not necessarily ready to encounter the gaze of the big wide world. BTW: post forthcoming on ‘putting my stuff on the internets’.

  3. Rene, after reading your paper, one of the ‘factual’ questions I had was whether there are measures to prevent twinking, other than the ‘social control mechanisms’ (disapproval of other players) that are evoked in your descriptions. And if so, are they aimed at preventing this because of the perception that it is ‘cheating’, or are such measures put to in place to maintain the openness of the game (which, as you describe, is challenged by twinkers)?

  4. Good question, and a difficult one to answer. Since twinking started to become widespread, Blizzard (the company behind the game) did change some elements to prevent the most extreme forms of twinking, like minimum level requirements for certain high level enchantments (weapon upgrades). Problem is that by doing so, they risked harming non-twinkers and they don’t want to anger the entire community for some anti-social behaviour of a few players. So such changes are kept to a minimum.

    I’d say these changes where not made to prevent a form of ‘cheating’ (twinking is regarded as ‘creative use of game mechanics’ mostly). Instead, they where made to answer to community uproar about twinking. While twinking itself is a play practice which narrows the game down to very limited forms of play (less open), when looking at the phenomena on a meta-level you could say that it actually serves the openness of the game. The more play styles possible, the more choices players can make, the more open the game becomes.

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