I’m now a participant in the Transliteracies project, which researches the practice of reading online. In particular, I’ve been asked to examine MMOs as reading interfaces. I’ll be studying both Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft.
One facet of MMO textuality that has caught my interest is role-playing, and the affordances and challenges that the MMO interface creates for role-players. I have opened up a dialogue with a group of role-players in FFXI to hear how they use the interface to perform their own narratives and fictions. The conversation has begun to veer to broader questions of the relationship between role-playing (in the conventional sense of dramatic enactment) and MMOs: despite the fact that MMOs are often described as “role-playing games,” the roles proffered by them are usually constrained, in tension with both the mechanics and the authored fictions of the games.