This article merges classic and contemporary texts in the study of games as tools to explore how endogenous and exogenous rules are created and maintained in a community of North and Central American erotic role players in the massive multiplayer online role playing game World of Warcraft.
The data for this article comes from nine months of immersive fieldwork on a role-playing server in which participant observation, case studies and in-depth interviews were used to generally explore the topic of erotic play within the game. The data of relevance to this article comes from
two in-game interviews as well as observations on the guild’s forum. The first interview excerpt comes from a discussion in which the leaders of the guild were asked to recount their experiences enforcing the guild’s rules, whilst the second excerpt comes from an interview with
a player who discussed the endogenous and exogenous rules she has created to ensure that her erotic play contributes to the narrative of her character. Within the guild forum, observations came from a message board dedicated to erotic role play (ERP), which includes rules that outline acceptable
erotic behaviour. Through an analysis of the two player interviews, as well as the guild’s forum rules, an argument develops for viewing ERP as a game in and of itself with its own rules and goals separate to those of the World of Warcraft. In viewing ERP as a game, we also view the
processes used by its players to define and create their own goals for play. The article will conclude with a discussion on the functionality of rules like ‘no one-handed typing’ situated within the larger context of World of Warcraft.
The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.