Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 201–230 | Cite as

Knowing the Way. Managing Epistemic Topologies in Virtual Game Worlds

  • Ulrika BennerstedtEmail author
  • Jonas Ivarsson


This is a study of interaction in massively multiplayer online games. The general interest concerns how action is coordinated in practices that neither rely on the use of talk-in-interaction nor on a socially present living body. For the participants studied, the use of text typed chat and the largely underexplored domain of virtual actions remain as materials on which to build consecutive action. How, then, members of these games can and do collaborate, in spite of such apparent interactional deprivation, are the topics of the study. More specifically, it addresses the situated practices that participants rely on in order to monitor other players’ conduct, and through which online actions become recognizable as specific actions with implications for the further achievement of the collaborative events. The analysis shows that these practices share the common phenomenon of projections. As an interactional phenomenon, projection of the next action has been extensively studied. In relation to previous research, this study shows that the projection of a next action can be construed with resources that do not build on turns-at-talk or on actions immediately stemming from the physical body—in the domain of online games, players project activity shifts by means of completely different resources. This observation further suggests that projection should be possible through the reconfiguration of any material, on condition that those reconfigurations and materials are recurrent aspects of some established practice.

Key words

conversation analysis collaborative gaming coordinated action ethnomethodology gameplay massively multiplayer online game projectability recognizability virtual action 



The work reported was supported by the Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS). It has been financed by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and the Swedish Research Council by means of the project ‘Learning, interactive technologies and the development of narrative knowing and remembering’. The study has also been funded by the Swedish Research Council through a grant to the project ‘Representation in imaginative practice’. We also wish to express our gratitude to Charles Goodwin, Christian Greiffenhagen, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden

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