World of Warcraft: Service or space?

Adam Ruch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This article seeks to explore the relationship between the concept of Blizzard's World of Warcraft in legal terms, in Blizzard's End-User License Agreement (EULA) and the Terms of Use (TOU), and the concept of the game as conceived by the players of the game. Blizzard present their product as a service, and themselves as a service provider, in the EULA/TOU. Meanwhile, the product itself seems to be more akin to a space or place, which subjective players move about in. This conflict is essentially a difference between a passive viewer accessing certain content within a range available to him, and an individual who inhabits a space and acts within that space as an agent. The meaning of this subjectivity-in-space (or denial of the same) problematizes the relationship Blizzard has with its customers, and the relationships between those customers and Blizzard's product. An evolution of the governance of these spaces is inevitable. Where Castronova and Lessig's answers differ, their basic assertion that the virtual political landscape can and will change seems clear. These changes will be influenced by the values placed on the social capital generated within the spaces themselves. The identities as per Turkle, Koster, and Dibble are human identities. Arguments as to why we should pay attention to synthetic worlds have been made by these authors already, so this article seeks to actually pay that attention. This is one practical example of the work that must be done around synthetic/virtual worlds, which directly affects tens of millions of people.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGame Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • Cyberculture
  • Governance
  • Identity construction
  • Regulation
  • Synthetic worlds
  • Video games
  • World of Warcraft


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