MMORPG Games as a Way of Coping During the Pandemic: A Study on World of Warcraft


Negative effects of coronavirus expand from physical to mental health, thus finding methods for emotional coping and wellness has become crucial. The act of play is a way to improve one’s wellness and it has been discussed as an intrinsic human activity nested in the culture. During quarantines “play” was in the virtual form more than ever. These virtual games, including MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), offer an achievement-based social experience. Before the pandemic, these games have been discussed as an escape from reality, an unhealthy coping mechanism, and an addiction. Contrarily, some researchers consider this activity as a facilitator of social interaction with existing or new social networks. In this study, World of Warcraft (WoW) is explored as a setting through an ethnographic approach to understand how the covid pandemic affected players and their experience in the virtual world. The paper focuses on the leveling stage of the game and fieldwork data derived through participant observation and casual conversations with players. Collected data suggests playing WoW has become a method for emotional coping against the pandemic since experienced players came back to the game during this time. This research examines Man, The Player in World of Warcraft and during the pandemic. Understanding a virtual world could unfold ways to build resilience in the “real world”. The paper argues that playing WoW could become a tool for better coping with the pandemic through its competition, chance, and simulation elements that create achievement-based, social, and nostalgic motivators in the game.

Author Information
Rengin Gürel, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey

Paper Information
Conference: BAMC2021
Stream: Digital Humanities

This paper is part of the BAMC2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon