Scaling Technoliberalism for Massively Multiplayer Online Games

Aleena Chia


The sandbox genre of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) addresses players as subjects with agency to shape worlds, impact populations, and make history through their actions within virtual environments. Designed features afford feelings of empowerment and solidarity that undergird technoliberal forms of subjectivity, which uphold technological structures as legitimate means to emergent effects in virtual worlds. This article uses ethnographic fieldwork and player interviews at EVE Online fan conventions to examine how the ideas and affects of technoliberalism are afforded through procedurally-encoded game processes, yet are aestheticized through branding onto player communities and their platforms. This smooths over the contradiction at the heart of technoliberalism that players’ agency to shape virtual world content is contingent on rules encoded into platforms whose development and adjustment are beyond their control. These contradictions are the key to understanding the pleasures of freedom and complexities of control in designed environments beyond gaming.


MMOGs; affordances; technoliberalism; brandfests; agency

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