Virtual Spaces of Hope: Social Implications of Spatial Gameplay in Minecraft Online Servers

Yayınlandı: Ekim 18, 2012 kafaayari tarafından Yazılar içinde
Etiketler:, , , ,

Kerem Yavuz Demirbaş


Minecraft is a new game which offers tools and materials that produces its own gameworld by constantly destructing and reconstructing it.  The game world of Minecraft consists of cubic shapes (voxels). Players can get these blocks to inventory via mining, farming, hunting, digging, cutting or by simply exploring the broader game world. These blocks can be used in the production of new tools, including building or farming materials, weapons, armors.  The infinite possibility of destruction and construction of blocks offers not only mobility, but also motivates further creative potential of player’s imagination. Players exercise and build up their skills while creating their imaginary spaces.

Online Minecraft servers add an additional social level to spatial gameplay and contribute to the expansion of the game world. From simple farm houses to skyscrapers, players build their buildings that create a new space with infinite new possibilities. Within the recently constructed neighborhoods, various sources of conflict emerge. The sharing of resources and land gets problematic not only when the player involves in building but also in the course of production process itself as in mining and farming. For gamer community these conflicts mean changes in rules and conducts, moderation system and also the change in social practice of player in the game world.

In this paper I am analyzing social implications of spatial gameplay in Minecraft. My focus will be on virtual property relations, private and public property and, more importantly, “griefing”, which can be defined as act of angering people through use of destruction, construction and social engineering. It is a general problem for online players, but for Minecraft players it has additional meaning:  Simply because, the essence of Minecraft’s gameplay is meaningful construction and aesthetic experience, and yet destructive play is an undeniable part of the gameplay. When griefers attack the reason is not always individual but sometimes there are group interests and some of them are politically motivated conflicts. The restoration of ruined structures, plots and regions is also a political question. That is where conflict between private and public space emerges and makes itself a fundamental problem in the game.

The method that I will be using in this study will be playing analysis from game studies, and digital ethnography.  I will participate online Minecraft forums and I will play Minecraft in Legendarycraft servers with other players. Compared to other servers, Legendarycraft servers have more user capacity, which offers more populated areas to have the chance to observe more examples of such conflicts.

The critical potential of this study is coming mostly from the peculiarities of Minecraft. Compared to game worlds of other online digital games such as World of Warcraft, Lineage, Knight Online etc., the game world of Minecraft offers us a rich material to understand the relation between game world and the social world in terms of production and use of living space. The gameplay model of Minecraft offers an important alternative to dominant online gameplay paradigm in game industry, which is based on tradable item economy and leveling system.


  1. altug isigan dedi ki:

    Really very well written abstract… How unfortunate that I missed the presentation. (I need to go and grief a bit to manage my anger hehe 😉

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