Knowing the Way. Managing Epistemic Topologies in Virtual Game Worlds
This is a study of interaction in massively multiplayer online games. The general interest concerns how action is coordinated in practices that neither rely on the use of talk-in-interaction nor on a socially present living body. For the participants studied, the use of text typed chat and the largely underexplored domain of virtual actions remain as materials on which to build consecutive action. How, then, members of these games can and do collaborate , in spite of such apparent interactional deprivation, are the topics of the study. More specifically, it addresses the situated practices that participants rely on in order to monitor other players’ conduct, and through which online actions become recognizable as specific actions with implications for the further achievement of the collaborative events. The analysis shows that these practices share the common phenomenon of projections. As an interactional phenomenon, projection of the next action has been extensively studied. In relation to previous research, this study shows that the projection of a next action can be construed with resources that do not build on turns-at-talk or on actions immediately stemming from the physical body—in the domain of online games, players project activity shifts by means of completely different resources. This observation further suggests that projection should be possible through the reconfiguration of any material, on condition that those reconfigurations and materials are recurrent aspects of some established practice.