Parlaying Value: Capital in and beyond Virtual Worlds
Thomas M. Malaby
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Games and Culture, Forthcoming
By establishing the realness of the economies within synthetic worlds (otherwise known as virtual worlds, MMOGs, or MMORPGs), recent scholarship has made it clear that people within them produce commodities and currencies with real market value. Other work has pointed to the increasing importance of social networks within worlds, between them, and across the boundary which appears to separate them from the rest of users' lives. But to tie these two threads together, and also to account for the use of these environments for the development of expertise and credentials, I propose adding a third form, cultural capital, to the mix, and outline a model for understanding capital in all its manifestations: material, social, and cultural. By enabling researchers to articulate the forms resources take as they are generated within and beyond synthetic worlds, this model will make it possible to explore how actors within them transform, or parlay, these forms from one into the other. Furthermore, it reveals how they do this not only within particular environments, but across all the domains wherein they act, blurring any qualitative distinction between virtual and real worlds.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: Cultural capital, social capital, virtual worlds, MMOGs, MMORPGs
Date posted: December 29, 2005