Open Projects

Outside of anthropology, gamers and gaming communities have often been the focus of scholarly research into negative traits such as violence, lack of representation of gender and sexuality in games, or toxic communities and how these effects can be transferred into the real world (e.g., Anderson and Bushman, 2001; Elson and Ferguson, 2014).

My focus, however, is on a different phenomenon – when players bring aspects of the real world into the game world, by recreating models of work, labour, policing, and strict adherence to rules. Where video games offer players a sandbox experience to explore modified realities through, for example, criminality and adventure, what contributes to players seeking out and creating spaces where they can instead align to the status quo of real life. 

“It is not only that virtual worlds borrow assumptions from real life; virtual worlds show us how, under our very noses, our ‘real’ lives have been ‘virtual’ all along. It is in being virtual that we are human: since it is human ‘nature’ to experience life through the prism of culture, human being has always been virtual being

(Boellstorff 2015: 5).


Anderson C. A., Bushman B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: a meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychol. Sci. 12 353–359.

Boellstorff, T., 2015. Coming Of Age In Second Life. 1st ed. Princeton University Press.