School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Research Publications

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    Automating Digital Afterlives
    Fordyce, R ; Nansen, B ; Arnold, M ; Kohn, T ; Gibbs, M ; Jansson, A ; Adams, PC (Oxford University Press, 2021-08-26)
    The question of how the dead “live on” by maintaining a presence and connecting to the living within social networks has garnered the attention of users, entrepreneurs, platforms, and researchers alike. In this chapter we investigate the increasingly ambiguous terrain of posthumous connection and disconnection by focusing on a diverse set of practices implemented by users and offered by commercial services to plan for and manage social media communication, connection, and presence after life. Drawing on theories of self-presentation (Goffman) and technological forms of life (Lash), we argue that moderated and automated performances of posthumous digital presence cannot be understood as a continuation of personal identity or self-presentation. Rather, as forms of mediated human (after)life, posthumous social media presence materializes ambiguities of connection/disconnection and self/identity.
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    The Ethics of Multiplayer Game Design and Community Management
    A. Sparrow, L ; Gibbs, M ; Arnold, M (ACM, 2021-05)
    Game industry professionals are frequently implementing new methods of addressing ethical issues related to in-game toxicity and disruptive player behaviours associated with online multiplayer games. However, academic work on these behaviours tends to focus on the perspectives of players rather than the industry. To fully understand the ethics of multiplayer games and promote ethical design, we must examine the challenges facing those designing multiplayer games through an ethical lens. To this end, this paper presents a reflexive thematic analysis of 21 in-depth interviews with games industry professionals on their ethical views and experiences in game design and community management. We identify a number of tensions involved in making ethics-related design decisions for divided player communities alongside current game design practices that are concerned with functionality, revenue and entertainment. We then put forward a set of design considerations for integrating ethics into multiplayer game design.
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    Ludic Ethics: The Ethical Negotiations of Players in Online Multiplayer Games
    Sparrow, LA ; Gibbs, M ; Arnold, M (SAGE Publications, 2020-01-01)
    This study introduces the ludic ethics approach for understanding the moral deliberations of players of online multiplayer games. Informed by a constructivist paradigm that places players’ everyday ethical negotiations at the forefront of the analysis, this study utilises a novel set of game-related moral vignettes in a series of 20 in-depth interviews with players. Reflexive thematic analysis of these interviews produced four key themes by which participants considered the ethics of in-game actions: (1) game boundaries, (2) consequences for play, (3) player sensibilities, and (4) virtuality. These results support the conceptualisation of games as complex ethical sites in which players negotiate in-game ethics by referring extensively – although not exclusively – to a framework of ‘ludomorality’ that draws from the interpreted meanings associated with the ludic digital context.
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    Apathetic villagers and the trolls who love them: Player amorality in online multiplayer games
    Sparrow, L ; Gibbs, M ; Arnold, M (ACM, 2019-12-02)
    Players are sometimes understood to hold an 'amoral' stance in games, morally disengaging from game content and in-game player behaviours because 'it's just a game'. This amorality is often seen as problematic and in need of refuting or amendment, particularly if we wish to encourage more ethical play online. However, few studies have approached a theory of player amorality from the player's perspective in multiplayer games. This study aims to address this gap by conducting 20 in-depth interviews with a wide range of multiplayer game-players, exploring players' ethical views towards problematic or disruptive in-game behaviours. Preliminary results show that while players do exhibit a certain amorality regarding in-game actions, players express, justify and explain this amorality in a variety of considered ways that go beyond notions of 'it's just a game' and the 'sociopathic griefer', and step outside the framework of moral disengagement. This paper puts forward a preliminary framework of player amorality termed 'Apathetic Villager Theory', encapsulated by six key attitudes/themes that highlight the nuances involved in the (un)ethical standpoints of a range of players. It is hoped that this framework will be useful in approaching and responding to player amorality in a way that gives due recognition of the various voices and understandings involved in multiplayer digital gameplay.
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    Digital housekeepers and domestic expertise in the networked home
    Kennedy, J ; Nansen, B ; Arnold, M ; Wilken, R ; Gibbs, M (Sage Publications, 2015-11-01)
    This article examines the distribution of expertise in the performance of ‘digital housekeeping’ required to maintain a networked home. It considers the labours required to maintain a networked home, the forms of digital expertise that are available and valued in digital housekeeping, and ways in which expertise is gendered in distribution amongst household members. As part of this discussion, we consider how digital housekeeping implicitly situates technology work within the home in the role of the ‘housekeeper’, a term that is complicated by gendered sensitivities. Digital housework, like other forms of domestic labour, contributes to identity and self-worth. The concept of housework also affords visibility of the digital housekeeper’s enrolment in the project of maintaining the household. This article therefore asks, what is at stake in the gendered distribution of digital housekeeping?
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    Death and the Internet: Consumer issues for planning and managing digital legacies (2nd edition)
    Nansen, B ; van der Nagel, E ; Kohn, T ; Arnold, M ; Gibbs, M (Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, 2017-12-01)
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    Methodological and ethical concerns associated with digital ethnography in domestic environments: participation burden and burdensome technologies
    Nansen, B ; Wilken, R ; Kennedy, J ; Arnold, M ; Gibbs, M ; Warr, D ; Waycott, J ; Guillemin, M ; Cox, S (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
    This chapter reflects on methodological and ethical issues arising in a digital ethnography project conducted in domestic environments. The participatory aims of the methodological approach required participants to produce a series of videos exploring domestic digital environments. The videos were then uploaded using an ethnographic software application. Early in the project it became evident that researchers had limited control over important aspects of the technology, and that the technology itself was having disruptive effects in households. Further, although the study was designed to be engaging and playful for participants, the tasks of producing the videos was perceived by some participants as requiring onerous levels of creativity and digital media literacy. The chapter discusses these methodological and ethical issues, and how they were largely resolved.
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    Researching Death Online
    van Ryn, L ; KOHN, T ; Nansen, B ; Arnold, M ; Gibbs, M ; Hjorth, L ; Horst, H ; Galloway, A ; Bell, G (Routledge, 2017)
    Death now knocks in a digital age. When the time is nigh, whether from natural causes at a ripe age, or from accidents or illness when young, the word goes out through a range of technologies and then various communities gather offline and online. Digital ethnography in this “death” sphere has been growing in form and possibility over the past two decades as various platforms are designed and become occupied with the desires of the living and dying. Online funerals and commemorative activities are now often arranged alongside the perhaps more somber rites of burial or cremation (Boellstorff 2008, 128). Services such as LivesOn promise that we shall be able to “tweet” beyond the grave; members of online communities encounter each other on commemorative online sites where they grieve for a shared friend but never meet each other “in person”; and it is predicted that soon there will be more Facebook profiles of the dead than of the living.
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    Facebook and the Other: Administering to and Caring for the Dead Online
    Kohn, T ; Nansen, B ; Arnold, MV ; Gibbs, MR ; Hage, G ; Eckerlsey, R (Melbourne University Press, 2012)
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    Social Media in the Funeral Industry: On the Digitization of Grief
    NANSEN, B ; Kohn, ; Arnold, ; van Ryn, ; Gibbs, (Broadcast Education Association, 2017)