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Players and Their Pets

Gaming Communities from Beta to Sunset

2015
Authors:

Mia Consalvo and Jason Begy

Players and Their Pets

An unprecedented look at the lifespan of an online game that went against the grain

In Players and Their Pets, Mia Consalvo and Jason Begy chart the brief life of a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) called Faunasphere, examining how the game evolved over the course of its entire life cycle from 2009 to 2011 in terms of design as well as how its player community responded to changes and events.

Players and Their Pets features a deep dive into a rich online world and a rare opportunity to see a the nearly complete life cycle of a game. A great read for anyone interested in studying, designing, or thinking about online games and virtual worlds.

Christopher A. Paul, Seattle University

In the world of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), Faunasphere was but a blip on the screen in its short public life from 2009 to 2011. Its devoted players, many of them middle-aged women, entered a world that did not build on common fantasy or science-fiction tropes. There was no evil to defeat or realms to conquer, only friendly animals to care for and pollution to fight.

In Players and Their Pets, Mia Consalvo and Jason Begy argue that its very difference makes it critically important—even more so than the large, commercially successful games such as World of Warcraft that have all too often shaped game studies discourse. Consalvo and Begy demonstrate how the beta period of an MMOG can establish social norms that guide how the game is played. They also show how a game’s platform creates expectations for how the game will work and who is playing it—and what happens when those expectations clash with reality. Even while telling the story of this particular game and its predominantly female players, Players and Their Pets cautions against oversimplifying players based on their gender. Faunasphere’s playerbase enjoyed diverse aspects of the game, for varied reasons.

No other game studies book tracks the entire life cycle of an online game to examine how the game evolved in terms of design as well as how its player community responded to changes and events. The brief life of Faunasphere makes this possible in Players and Their Pets.

Players and Their Pets

Mia Consalvo is professor of communication studies and Canada Research Chair in game studies and design at Concordia University. She is the author of Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames and the coeditor of Sports Videogames and The Handbook of Internet Studies.

Jason Begy is a PhD student in communication studies at Concordia University.

Players and Their Pets

Players and Their Pets features a deep dive into a rich online world and a rare opportunity to see a the nearly complete life cycle of a game. A great read for anyone interested in studying, designing, or thinking about online games and virtual worlds.

Christopher A. Paul, Seattle University

Players and Their Pets

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: A Different Kind of World
1. Introducing the Caretakers
2. Those Were the Days: Interacting with Beta Players
3. Shifting Platforms and Troubled Ground: Faunasphere and Facebook
4. The End of the World
5. “Why Am I So Heartbroken?” Exploring the Bonds between Players and Fauna
Conclusion: Saying Goodbye to Rock Garden
Appendix
Notes
Gameography
Bibliography
Index