Destruction as Deviant Leisure in EVE Online

Kelly Bergstrom


In this article, I argue for the inclusion of ‘deviant leisure’—a concept borrowed from the neighboring field of Leisure Studies—to provide Game Studies with a more robust theoretical toolkit to examine negative player-to-player interactions within online gameworlds. As a means of adding additional vocabulary to describe norms violating behavior, this article uses the Massively Multiplayer Online Game EVE Online as a case study to demonstrate how deviant leisure can be an effective framework for unpacking some of the behaviors observed within gameworlds that don’t quite fit into other commonly used categories such as dark play, griefing, trolling, or toxicity. Of particular value for Game Studies, deviant leisure has within it an embedded critique of the social order. In this article, I argue that what is happening in EVE is a rejection of games being coopted by society into becoming an activity that must be productive, and instead via the lens of deviant leisure we can recast these events as a struggle for gameplay to return to leisure for leisure’s sake.


deviant leisure; EVE Online; norms; MMOGs

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