Posts Tagged Tracy’s digital ethnography
This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Tracy's digital ethnography


Methodological preambles are far from innocent in the construction of ethnographic authority. The ethnography described in this book is no different. Chapter 4 is there not just to tell you what I did, but to convince you that I did something that authorizes me to speak. Devices such as the technical glossary at the end of this book display the ethnographer’s competence with the local language, just as do the glossaries included with ethnographies conducted in distant places and other languages. (Hine 2000, p46)

An RPG Glossary

Alignment – moral compass; a combination of lawful / chaotic / unlawful + good / neutral / evil

D&D – Dungeons & Dragons

GM – Game Master

God-moding – Making a character like a god with unbeatable powers.

IC – In character

MUD -Multi-User Dungeon, Domain or Dimension (multi-player computer game that combines elements of role-playing games, hack and slash style computer games and social chat rooms)

NPC – non-playing character

OOC – Out of Character

OTBRPG – Online text-based role playing game

PBC – Play by chat

PBEM – Play by email

PBP – Play by post

PBW – Play by wiki

PTB – ‘Powers that be’ (admin, moderators, GM and the like)

Free-form – Minimal formal rules and restrictions.

Re-roll – start over

RL – Real Life

Role Playing RPG – Role Play Game

RPB – Role play blog

Hine, C, (2000) “The virtual objects of ethnography” from Hine, C, Virtual Ethnography pp.41-66, London: Sage

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This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Tracy's digital ethnography
RPG Maker VX

The following quotation is the rules for the RPG forum on The Northlands.  They were posted (and are implemented) but our moderator, Red.  To see the rules in their environment click here.

We all have to have rules. I like to think of them as guidelines, to be used with your good judgement. Please adhere to them and it will remain fun for all smile.gif

1. Please, no godmodding – every character should have weaknesses, just as they have strengths. They should also be defeatable – there’s no fun, otherwise.

2. Don’t force other characters – you can aim the hit, but it is up to the other player if it lands or not. Work these sort of things out prior to the event via the OOC thread (exactly what it’s created for) or via PM. In some circumstances, players will allow someone else to control their character, if they happen to be away for a long period of time, so as not to hold up the play of the game. However, don’t assume you can control someone else’s character without getting their permission first.

3. Before entering an RPG, speak to the GM (Game Master) first, and make your intentions clear, through the OOC thread (again, that’s what they’re there for) or by PM.

4. Try not to double-post as a character. Wait for another player to chip in. Don’t forget about timezones and that real life takes precedence over RPGs.

5. Keep conversation about the game to the OOC threads. That’s another use for them! Only character posts should be put into the actual game thread. Everything else gets confined to the OOC thread.

6. If conflicts arise and can’t be resolved amiably, seek the help of the moderator (me biggrin.gif) or one of our admin staff. That is what we are there for smile.gif

7. The Admin and Moderators’ word is final – so don’t argue. wink.gif

As I think of rules, I’ll add them, but for now – happy gaming smile.gif

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This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Tracy's digital ethnography

They [arrival stories] play the crucial role of anchoring that description in the intense and authority-giving personal experience of fieldwork … Always they are responsible for setting up the initial positionings of the subjects of the ethnographic text: the ethnographer, the native, and the reader. (Pratt 1986, cited in Hine 2000 p45)


She arrived at night, unintentionally – but perhaps that was a good thing. The journey was long, and involved many transitions, connections and re-connections. Upon arriving, Hiro felt strange, this place was familiar – yet new. She didn’t know where to start, or if starting would be possible. The place was frankly deserted. But she needed help, answers – she couldn’t do this alone.

She checked into an anonymous inn, nothing flashy – palaces and throne halls were a world away, another lifetime. She was a scholarly creature of universities now – at least she hoped she was. She washed and changed out of her travel stained clothes before making her way to the common area. A few sad looking strangers stared into their tankards or picked miserably at the plain food before them. No one she recognized, but yet – would she even recognize them if she saw them? Who was she expecting to be here? The Keeper? Prophet? Innomi? She suspected they were long dead.

Shaking off panic and the urge to return to her room and get some rest before beginning, she ordered a glass of the local ale and bowl of indifferent looking broth that bubbled on the stove and sat in a corner, making notes in her note book as she ate, as she waited for someone to arrive.

I didn’t want to intrude on the role-play game that was to be the main focus of my ethnography, the Forest of the Moon as that was long established and it seemed impolite to jump in  just for the sake of research. However as I was using Hine (2000) as the framework of my explorations I felt participation was important.

The definition of ethnography as participation given by Hammersley and Atkinson (1995: 2) highlights the interactive aspect of ethnographic research. The researcher does not just observe at close quarters, but interacts with the researched to ask questions and gain the insights into life that come from doing as well as seeing. (Hine 2000, p. 47)

So I asked the FoTM players to join me in a little experiment called “Hirondelle helps out” where I blew the dust off an old character of mine (Hirondelle the Goddess of the Underworld, who many pf the players knew well) and set her up as an ethnographic scholar in a random imaginary world – in this case an inn, a common enough scene for an RPG happening.  This enabled me to (re)familiarise myself with the process – I had forgotten how hard it is, notice the big oops where I forgot to introduce myself and the FoTM GM gives me a gentle nudge in the right direction.  It also meant that I felt a little more authentic and less of a ‘mere traveller’ in an exotic land.  My arrival story was the first post, for a glimpse of the rest of this mini ethnographic RPG please visit us here.

Hine, C, (2000) “The virtual objects of ethnography” from Hine, C, Virtual Ethnography pp.41-66, London: Sage

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