Evan Conaway

Evan Conaway is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. After getting his BA in Anthropology from the University of Georgia, Evan came to the University of California, Irvine to study gaming cultures. His dissertation work explores how the servers that run online games serve as sites of memory and culture, as new kinds of places of the digital age. This work addresses how online gamers are using servers to preserve, memorialize, and restore virtual worlds and online games, and how servers matter to gamers both as social places and in geopolitical places. He is specifically interested in understanding how virtual space is maintained and reproduced, often through illicit or unauthorized means, in relation to the material technologies that create it, and he seeks to identify the politics embedded in present-day efforts to engage with the pasts of virtual worlds.


Read more: https://sites.google.com/a/uci.edu/econaway/
Email: econaway@uci.edu

Gaming Memoryscapes: Private Servers, Piracy, and Nostalgia

In light of recent changes to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW), many players are choosing to connect to “private servers” that run older versions of the game. While these servers are typically located in non-US sites and exist outside of corporate data centers, the game code is still corporate property, constrained by intellectual property laws and End User License Agreements. WoW’s development company has begun to make use of rhetorical tactics to demonize private servers (e.g., referring to them as “pirate” servers), and have threatened users and maintainers with legal action. With nostalgia and obsolescence as driving forces and legal frameworks as looming threats, what values and ideologies emerge from everyday player discourse and practices on private servers? How might private servers reshape understandings of relations between intellectual property and geopolitical boundaries?