Your world, your imagination : community construction in the online multiplayer game Second life

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Zheng, Nan, Ph.D.

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Cohen (1985) and Anderson (1983) argued that community is imagined among its participants who define it and give it meaning. Following this theoretical approach, this study explores how a community is constructed through people’s different online social experiences. Using textual analysis of player-run newspapers and blogs, this study investigates the community construction of Second Life-an online three-dimensional multiplayer game. The findings suggest that Second Life is a community in which 1) social aggregations are based on a sense of virtual geographical belonging; 2) different in-game ideologies and real world politics are applied as symbolic constructions of sub-communities; 3) people’s relationships are not only formed upon online fantasies, but also can be developed into strong social ties that provide material aid in real life.


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