Ethnography and Virtual Worlds A Handbook of Method

ISBN-10: 0691149518

ISBN-13: 9780691149516

Edition: 2013

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Ethnography and Virtual Worldsis the only book of its kind--a concise, comprehensive, and practical guide for students, teachers, designers, and scholars interested in using ethnographic methods to study online virtual worlds, including both game and nongame environments. Written by leading ethnographers of virtual worlds, and focusing on the key method of participant observation, the book provides invaluable advice, tips, guidelines, and principles to aid researchers through every stage of a project, from choosing an online fieldsite to writing and publishing the results.Provides practical and detailed techniques for ethnographic research customized to reflect the specific issues of online virtual worlds, both game and nongameDraws on research in a range of virtual worlds, including Everquest, Second Life,, and World of WarcraftProvides suggestions for dealing with institutional review boards, human subjects protocols, and ethical issuesGuides the reader through the full trajectory of ethnographic research, from research design to data collection, data analysis, and writing up and publishing research resultsAddresses myths and misunderstandings about ethnographic research, and argues for the scientific value of ethnography
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Book details

List price: $26.95
Copyright year: 2013
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 9/16/2012
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 264
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.836
Language: English

George E. Marcus is professor of political science at Williams College.

T. L. Taylor is Associate Professor in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. She is the author of Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (MIT Press).

Why this Handbook?
Why ethnographic methods and why virtual worlds?
Why a handbook?
An orientation to the virtual worlds we studied
Three Brief Histories
A brief history of ethnographic methods
A brief history of virtual worlds
A brief history of research on virtual world cultures
The uses of history
Ten Myths About Ethnography
Ethnography is unscientific
Ethnography is less valid than quantitative research
Ethnography is simply anecdotal
Ethnography is undermined by subjectivity
Ethnography is merely intuitive
Ethnography is writing about your personal experience
Ethnographers contaminate fieldsites by their very presence
Ethnography is the same as grounded theory
Ethnography is the same as ethnomethodology
Ethnography will become obsolete
Research Design and Preparation
Research questions: emergence, relevance, and personal interest
Selecting a group or activity to study
Scope of the fieldsite
Attending to offline contexts
Participant Observation in Virtual Worlds
Participant observation in context
Participant observation in practice
Preparing the researching self
Taking care in initiating relationships with informants
Making mistakes
Taking extensive fieldnotes
Keeping data organized
Participant observation and ethnographic knowledge
The timing and duration of participant observation
The experimenting attitude
Interviews and Virtual Worlds Research
The value of interviews in ethnographic research
Effective interviewing
The value of group interviews in ethnographic research
Size, structure, and location for group interviews
Other Data Collection Methods for Virtual Worlds Research
Capturing chatlogs
Capturing screenshots
Capturing video
Capturing audio
Data collection in other online contexts
Historical and archival research
Virtual artifacts
Offline interviews and participant observation
Using quantitative data
The principle of care
Informed consent
Mitigating institutional and legal risk
Sex and intimacy
Doing good and compensation
Taking leave
Accurate portrayal
Human Subjects Clearance and Institutional Review Boards
Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
Preparing a protocol for KB review
Working with IRBs
Informed consent and anonymity
Data Analysis
Ethnographic data analysis: flexibility and emergence
Preliminary reflections while in the field
The role of theory in data analysis
Beginning data analysis: systematize and thematize
Working with participant observation data
Working with individual and group interview data
Working with images, video, and textual data
The end of the data analysis phase: from themes to narratives and arguments
Generalization and comparison
Writing Up, Presenting, and Publishing Ethnographic Research
The early stages of writing up: conferences, drafts, blogs
Written genres
The writing process
A quick trip back to the field?
Tone, style, and audience
Conclusion: Arrivals and New Departures
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