Recommended Readings on Virtual Worlds & Second Life

Boellstorff, Tom. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

  • A bit of a tough read, but well-worth the effort. Anthropologist Boellstorff applies traditional ethnographic research methods to Second Life.

Meadows, Mark Stephen. I, Avatar: The Culture and Consequences of Having a Second Life. Indianapolis: New Riders, 2008.

  • Unusual and fascinating look at some of the personal and subjective issues involved in having a virtual world representation of yourself.

Malaby, Thomas M. Making Virtual Worlds: Linden Labs and Second Life. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009.

  • Another anthropologist, but in this case examining the Linden Lab staff, and detailing how the libertarian ethos of the company affects the thousands of Residents of Second Life.

Castronova, Edward. Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

  • Analyzing the economic and business side of online games.

Au, Wagner James. The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World. New York: Harper Collins, 2008.

  • Written by the founder of influential Second Life news service, New World Notes.

Dibbell, Julian. My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

  • A highly personal and engaging tale of life lived in the virtual world.

Dibbell, Julian. Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

  • Dibbell attempts to make a living for a year solely from virtual cash, and then claim it on his income tax.

Ludlow, Peter and Wallace, Mark. The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid that Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007.

  • The rise and conflicts of the Second Life Herald. Deals a lot with The Sims Online as well. Documents the strange conflicts between the news service, the virtual world residents, and the companies that own the systems.

Taylor, T. L. Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006.

  • An ethnographic study of popular MMO Everquest, looking at the role of gender and gaming.

Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

  • A classic study of MUDs and their social lives. Heavily influenced by psychology, this book explores how and why different people use MUDs for different reasons.
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