Building a World of warcraft: cyber-colonialism through othering strategies

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University of Alabama Libraries

This thesis provides a rhetorical analysis of the popular video game World of Warcraft (WoW) and related material. The subscriber base of this game makes it a particularly prominent example of discourse with potentially great influence. Where previous studies have focused less on WoW's narrative in favor of a psychological or sociological approach, this study attempts to examine the rhetorical implications of the game's storyline. The study situates WoW within a suitable critical space and shows how strategies used to emphasize racial differences result in a new theoretical framework described by the term "cyber-colonialism." The study highlights three strategies through which WoW emphasizes the differences between racial groups and thereby creates its cyber-colonial portrayals: constructing opposing binaries, the role of geography and climate, and the use of color as a marker of deviance. These strategies all have an established history within ancient, medieval, and modern literature and likely influence the way in which participants view WoW's cultures. The remainder of the rhetorical analysis highlights three arguments WoW itself teaches about particular rhetorical strategies. In particular, this study shows how WoW embraces cross-cultural cooperation, rejects scapegoating as an appropriate rhetorical tool, and encourages the involvement of native cultures in solving problems. WoW has great potential as a teaching tool and considerable room for future analysis and arguments.

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Rhetoric, Communication