Home    Number 5, 2019

MMORPGs and Nationalism

[Massovye mnogopol’zovatel’skie onlain-igry (MMORPG) i natsionalizm]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150007377-4

Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 26.07.2019

Accepted: 11.09.2019

About author(s)

Ljiljana Gavrilović | https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4296-4599 | ljiljana.gavrilovic@ei.sanu.ac.rs | Institute of Ethnography SASA (Knez Mihailova 36, 11000, Belgrade, Serbia)


MMORPG, World of Warcraft, nationalism


Communities which form within the worlds of digital games, especially MMORPGs are, in theory, a-national, because the basic premise of digital worlds is their limitlessness and the overcoming of boundaries that exist in the physical world. Gamers from different European countries are based on servers which are designated as international (English language European servers), these people speak different languages, but English is the default lingua franca. Even though it is generally assumed that most guilds (communities) on these servers are international, there is also a strong tendency to form “national” guilds, comprised of gamers who speak the same native language. On the one hand, this is the consequence of the desire for better/easier understanding and communication within the community, but — ​as analyses of gamer behaviour on Chinese and Taiwanese servers show — ​also the assumption of shared cultural preferences, that serve to enhance the internal cohesion of the community. “National” guilds will often recruit members by publishing calls in their native language on public channels, which serves to deter anyone who doesn’t speak the language in question. In these cases it is irrelevant where (in which country) the players are physically based, as the national borders are equated with the boundaries of language. This paper will analyze recruiting messages published by “national” guilds, the behaviour/attitudes of the players and the discussions of ethnic/national issues on public channels and social networks in the MMORPG World of Warcraft. The data shows that, regardless of the assumed lack of borders in digital worlds, boundaries in online spaces are often set in accordance with ideas about nations that players have in the physical world. On the other hand, there is the possibility that some gamers, through meeting and conversing with people from different countries and cultures in the digital world, correct and change the attitudes they formed in their physical surroundings, which then serves to facilitate their joining international communities, as well as diminishing ethnic barriers in the “real” world.

Funding Information

This research was supported by the following institutions and grants:
Serbian Ministry of Education and Science [no. 177026]


Gavrilović, L. 2019. MMORPGs and Nationalism [Massovye mnogopol’zovatel’skie onlain-igry (MMORPG) i natsionalizm]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 5: 50–67. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150007377-4

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