Make-believe and make-belief in Second Life role-playing communities

Document type: Journal Articles
Article type: Original article
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Maria Bäcke
Title: Make-believe and make-belief in Second Life role-playing communities
Journal: Convergence : The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies
Year: 2012
Volume: 18
Issue: 1
Pagination: 85-92
ISSN: 1354-8565
Publisher: International Council for Adult Education
URI/DOI: 10.1177/1354856511419917
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Planning and Media Design (Sektionen för planering och mediedesign)
School of Planning and Media Design S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Language: English
Abstract: This feature article applies the concepts of 'make-believe' and 'make-belief' formulated by performance theorist, Richard Schechner, in a study of two role-play communities, Midian City and Gor in the online 3D environment Second Life. With make-believe fantasy role-play at their core, members of the two communities negotiate the social and political norms, the goals of the community and as well as the boundaries of the virtual role-play. The article explores the innovative forms of interaction at play in these negotiation processes, using (cyber)ethnographic methods and the analysis of various textual sources, Goffman's theories of social performance as well as various types of performance discussed by Schechner and Auslander. The innovative forms of interaction are analysed in the light of the new technology and as performances and make-belief strategies directed towards realizing performative utopias, towards influencing the direction in which leaders and residents of this digital context want the role-play to develop, and towards shaping the emergent social and cultural rules and the political framework of the role-play.
Subject: Psychology\General
Technoscience Studies\General
Keywords: digital space; make-belief; make-believe; negotiation; online worlds; performance; role-play; Second Life; virtual; virtual worlds