’Oh, I Like My Horse, but I Love My Flying Mount!’ Joys of Mobility in the On-line Game World of Warcraft

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


Abstract in Undetermined
It is today commonplace that games and virtual worlds are not only multi-billion dollar businesses but also momentous socio-cultural phenomena that require critical attention. Massively Multiplayer On-line Games (MMOGs) are these days becoming recognized not only as grounds for play within ‘magic circles’ but also as complex and significant social spaces with 24-7 access to the millions of gamers who inhabit them. If the idea of MMOGs as closed off playgrounds is rejected, such games and their gamers, engaging in social and virtual geographies, may be viewed as transport systems and users whose socio-cultural constructions of mobility can be studied to identify barriers to, and alternative strategies for, more sustainable mobility solutions. Game design thus becomes a potential arena for crafting and providing alternative models of mobility.

This paper focuses on mobility in the world’s number one on-line role-playing game, World of Warcraft (Blizzard 2004) as experienced by a number of players and as expressed in the Swedish fan-magazine “Level presents World of Warcraft”, particularly an article on in-game mounts. Players produce as much as consume play, here read: mobility, but the game (mechanics) does control player movement in crucial ways. This paper seeks to show how traditionally positive values of mobility are employed by gamers and in the game design to enhance, inspire and prolong gameplay. Mobility is understood as central to the game experience, its playability, marketing and resulting commercial success. Although there is, at least on the surface, a democratization of mobility in operation e.g. in terms of safe and equal – gender and race-neutral access and public transportation options, the dominant configuration and use of mobility speaks of a very traditional mobility view with limited innovative mobility visions leaving much to be desired in view of the seemingly endless possibilities that game design and simulation might offer.


External organisations
  • University of Copenhagen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ethnology


  • mobility, space, ludic space, gender, mmorpg, mmos, game design
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes
Event7th European Social Science History Conference, 2008: network Ethnicity and Migration - Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 2008 Feb 262008 Mar 1


Conference7th European Social Science History Conference, 2008

Bibliographic note

Conference paper - delivered orally. 2008 version. Does not contain a reference section but references are included in parentheses in-text. Contact author for references if unable to locate referenced works. New version will be uploaded shortly which contains a list of references.

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