Sunday, 3 July 2011

A sincere interview invitation—do me a favor and you can get 500 WoW gold!

I am an MSc International Marketing student at King’s College London.
As a player of World of Warcraft myself, I wanted to carry out a dissertation study that examines how people can be freed from the constraints of the market logic in a videogame environment and how much freedom they can get when engaging with this game. Personally, I like this game because it offers me a good way of escaping the reality and it brings me so much fun. But in addition to the gameplay, I am also very interested in the fan communities where people share so many innovative ideas and creative fan arts about WoW. This creative and active fan culture in WoW makes fan communities increasingly powerful and uncontrollable, so that’s the reason why I would like to look into a topic about consumer emancipation. Hence, my research is dedicated to find out whether there is any creative activity that can emancipate players from the gaming logic of leveling up and getting the highest achievement. I am constantly looking for activities in the game or fan creations that do not follow the normal route, but aim to achieve their own ends. These could be experiencing the game in an unexpected way, creating fan arts that reflect critical thinking, or manipulating the game to achieve some unusual purposes, etc.
However, since I have only played this game since Cataclysm, I don’t have enough knowledge about this game’s historical development and the interesting ways of game engagement. That is why I am asking for your help.
Anyone who plays World of Warcraft who is over 18 years of age and has at least one level 85 character is welcome to take part in a 40-minute online interview. As a reward, we would like to offer 500 WoW gold for each interview. Don’t worry, all the gold is earned through my gameplay under the assistance of my friend Tao. Much of it is got through my profession—herbalism and alchemy.  If you would like to participate, you can get the gold either through joining my party and trading face-to-face, or through the mail system in the game. The interview could be face-to-face through Skype or online chat through MSN or other chat software. 
All research findings reported will be on an anonymous basis and will thus not be associated with you unless you wish to be identified. Responses collected will form the basis of our research project and might be put into the final written report, so there might be a need for disclosure of the information covered in the interview to a third party.
If you are interested in my research or want to do me this little favor, please contact my email: and tell me the way you would like to be interviewed, so we can make an appointment for this! Just to let you know, if you want to participate, you will also have to fill a consent form which is pretty simple. All of these could be done through the internet!
Thank you for your help ^_^! Cheers!

Interview Information Sheet


REC Reference Number: KCL/10-11_728


A study of Consumer Liberation potential in World of Warcraft

We would like to invite you to participate in this postgraduate research project.  You should only participate if you want to; choosing not to take part will not disadvantage you in any way. Before you decide whether you want to take part, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what your participation will involve.  Please take time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish.  Ask us if there is anything that is not clear or if you would like more information.

This consumer behaviour research aims to examine how people can be freed from the constraints of the market logic in a videogame environment and how much freedom they can get over their construction of avatars in the game world. Through studying this, we intend to understand whether and how consumers can improve the market system when they are within it.

We are inviting people who are playing or used to play the videogame World of Warcraft to participate this study. For your protection we must not allow you to participate if you are children or belong to any other vulnerable groups. We will ask you to complete a 40-minute on-line interview on the topic of liberatory activities in World of Warcraft wherever you feel convenient to do this when you have time. The interview will be recorded, subject to your permission. Recording of interviews will be deleted upon transcription. If you agree to take part you will be asked whether you are happy to be contacted after the interview if any further questions arise from the interview. This contact will be through email and therefore you will be asked to provide the email address if you are happy to do so.

Responses collected will form the basis of our research project and might be put into the final written report, so there might be a need for disclosure of the information covered in the interview to a third party. If you volunteer to participate, we will offer you 500 WOW gold as a reward through the mail system or trading directly in the game. 

All research findings reported will be on an anonymous basis and will thus not be associated with you unless you wish to be identified. We will store the information collected safely and separate the data for research with your email address, your name and your gaming name. Only my supervisor and I can get access to all of the information.

It is up to you to decide whether to take part or not.  If you decide to take part you are still free to withdraw at any time and without giving a reason. In addition to withdrawing yourself from the study, you may also withdraw any data/information you have already provided up until it is transcribed for use in the final report on 17th August 2011. A decision to withdraw at any time, or a decision not to take part, will not affect the standard of care you receive. If you do decide to take part you will be given this information sheet to keep and be asked to sign a consent form using electronic signature. The electronic signature could be the typing of your name or in a more secure form if you wish.

If this study has harmed you in any way you can contact King's College London using the details below for further advice and information:

Researcher: Qiaoshen WU, MSc International Marketing, Management Department, King’s College London
Supervisor: Gretchen Larsen, Supervisor, Management Department, King’s College London  

Interview consent form

Please complete this form after you have read the Information Sheet and/or listened to an explanation about the research.

Title of Study: A study of Consumer Liberation Potential in World of Warcraft

King’s College Research Ethics Committee Ref: KCL/10-11_728

Thank you for considering taking part in this research. The person organising the research must explain the project to you before you agree to take part.  If you have any questions arising from the Information Sheet or explanation already given to you, please ask the researcher before you decide whether to join in. You will be given a copy of this Consent Form to keep and refer to at any time.

Please tick or initial

  • I understand that if I decide at any time during the research that I no longer wish to participate in this project, I can notify the researchers involved and withdraw from it immediately without giving any reason. Furthermore, I understand that I will be able to withdraw my data up until it is transcribed for use in the final report on 17th August 2011.

  • I consent to the processing of my personal information for the purposes of this research study.  I understand that such information will be treated as strictly confidential and handled in accordance with the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998.

  • I consent to my interview being recorded.

  • I agree to be contacted by email if the researcher has further questions to ask based on this interview.

Participant’s Statement:

I ­­­­­­­­­­­­_____________________________________________________________________

Agree that the research project named above has been explained to me to my satisfaction and I agree to take part in the study. I have read both the notes written above and the Information Sheet about the project, and understand what the research study involves.

Signed                                                             Date

Investigator’s Statement:
I __________________________________________
Confirm that I have carefully explained the nature, demands and any foreseeable risks (where applicable) of the proposed research to the participant.
Signed                                                                      Date

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Playing WoW to Save People’s Life

I have mentioned previously that there are multiple ways to interact with the MMORPG, world of warcraft. In addition to the gameplay, we can create fan arts like comics, stories, machinimas and music videos to express our feelings and thoughts; or we can attend the annual Blizzcon to know new friends and to celebrate the festal carnival; or we can even hold an innovative event based on WoW, playing it for a completely different purpose—saving people’s life. The following story is found from Dragon*Con’s blog. Since it is a very creative and new game engagement, I’d like to discuss it here in terms of whether this behaviour emancipates players from the current constraints of marketing ideology.

Kevin's close friend and Dragon*Con staffer Jay Sturrock was recently diagnosed with cancer. To conquer the disease, Jay needs a large amount of money for the medicine and surgery treatment. With this in mind, Kevin decided to put his World of Warcraft habit to a good cause, utilizing it to raise fund for his friend. A 24-hour “WoW-a-thon” will be held at Battle and Brew Gaming Pub in Marietta on July 9th. People are encouraged to make a pledge at the beginning, and then the “WoW-a-thon’er” they sponsor will try to level up a new character in WoW as fast as possible within 24 hours. Finally, the amount of money donated by the sponsor will be the original pledge multiplied by the number of levels got by the “WoW-a-thon’er”. From the above description, we can tell that there are two teams of participants. One is made up of the money donors, the other is the team of “WoW-a-thon’ers”, namely players. Obviously, those players act a primary role during the fund raising, because the more levels they get the more money they can raise for Jay. During this process, gameplay is sacralized.

This story shows that consumers are not as passive as suggested by many Frankfurt school scholars. People do not just follow the standardized pattern of mindless consumption; in contrast, they can actively appropriate the cultural artifact to achieve their own ends. Through holding this event, Kevin sacralizes the gameplay and invents a new meaning of it. The 24-hour gaming experience becomes heroic and meaningful because of its good purpose. This is absolutely unanticipated by the game developer; however, it benefits Blizzard in many ways. First, as an interesting and editorial anecdote, this story could generate buzzwords among gamers and even potential players. While people talking about the story, they form a positive attitude toward this game. The possible outcome could be the increase in subscribers and time spent on this game by every subscriber, and this is exactly what Blizzard expects. Second, the new and positive meaning co-created by players is attached to WoW without costing Blizzard a cent. The game developer has spent no time and money in advertising WoW but its fan community, by launching this event, helps it achieve the same effect that can be brought by ads. Therefore, in this case, consumers have been integrated within the value chains of the videogame industry, acting as the free labour.

Nonetheless, we cannot say that people are passively manipulated simply because their creative endeavour benefits the game developer. By launching this event, they also get what they want. By manipulating the manipulation, they can achieve the purpose of fund raising and even save their friend’s life! Hence, although this case still fails to escape the market logic (I mean it is still within the constraints of the ideology set by the capital economy, and it is still utilised by the market to fulfill its exploitative purposes), it at least demonstrates that consumers are not mindless creatures who bear all the manipulations but with no critical thinking.

The picture used in this article is retrieved from, you can find it through this link:

Thursday, 23 June 2011

A Brief Self-Introduction

Hi, my friends! My name is Qiaoshen WU, or you can call me Yolanda. I am a post-graduate student at King’s College London, studying a one-year programme MSc International Marketing.

I have been studying fan communities of World of Warcraft for the last eight weeks, because I would like to write a dissertation on the topic of this game. The reason why I choose WoW as my dissertation topic is that I really like this game and I am a big fan of it! I have been playing this game for a while, and I have a hunter character that has achieved level 85, though some of the power leveling is under the assistance of my friend Tao. During playing this game, I found that the gaming environment in WoW is really another world, a virtual reality where players get quite interactive with others and with the gaming context. It gives me an opportunity to get involved in a big fan community where people have the same interest, and share information on this game. Around this game, fan arts, big events like Blizzcon, and other cultural phenomenon flourishes. Players get more active and creative in online communities, such as MMO. This might be the reason why I am so interested in the empowerment issue about WoW.

While studying and playing WoW, I found that I like to play the game because I feel empowered during playing it. It always offers me positive feedback when I complete the quests, but in the reality it is not always the case. Besides, when playing in dungeons, people must coordinate with each other, help each other and trust each other to win the raids. Before the random raid finder, people are more likely to make valuable friendship through playing the game. Some of them would become friends in the rest of their lives. The epic quests make me like a hero who can save the world and battle with the devils. I appreciate all these merits, but I wonder whether these are real emancipation. Can we say we are empowered just because we are very successful in a virtual videogame? Maybe not! But can we find a clean area in the videogame which is free from the market ideology’s contamination? Can we interact with the game WoW in a way that is not expected by its game developer, Blizzard, and is not for the sake of Blizzard but for the sake of ourselves? Maybe there is!

Although I am studying marketing, my research is dedicated to find out a way that can emancipate contemporary consumers from the market logic, from the manipulation of big corporations, from the consuming life. Is there a way to escape the market? May it be interacting with a virtual game community in a creative and unexpected way? Or other more radical ways? If you have a better idea or any creative views, why not give me a post and have a discussion with me? I hope when I begin to go deeper and study through this whole game, I can answer the above questions. And absolutely, I will share every of my research finding with you! If you have any question about my research, I will feel very happy to explain it to you.