The grind in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) has been described by game studies theorists as an inscrutable, paradoxical convergence of work and play (Dibbell, 2006; Yee, 2006), troubling previously held notions about the carefree nature of play as advanced by seminal theorists such as Johan Huizinga (1951). However, despite the recent academic fervor around MMOGs, examinations of the grind offer little insight into why players grind, and even less about what the grind means to its practitioners. Studying the collected forum and interview texts of a six-year old MMOG community, this dissertation adopts a Wittgensteinian approach to discourse analysis in an effort to learn more about the grind and what it means to the players who practice it. This ‘mapping out’ of the grind’s meaning in the Guild Wars community is intended to both start and/or contribute to a dialog in game studies that examines how play can be situated theoretically with respect to phenomena so often construed as undesirable by its players while also providing a functional instrument for others to adopt in their further analysis of this phenomenon.
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Thesis advisor: Bowes, John
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