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'This one's for VIP users' : Participation and Commercial Strategies in Children's Virtual Worlds

Martinez, Carolina LU (2014) In Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research 6. p.698-721
Abstract
Through the integrated framework of participation theory and political economy, this article analyzes participatory opportunities in the virtual world Habbo Hotel, and how participation is constrained and framed by the producer’s commercial strategies, which are based on advertising and sales of virtual goods. The study also looks into the ways in which the producer Sulake Corporation discursively represents the virtual world, and how the users with various forms of tactics try to bypass the commercial constraints. The methods used include observations of the English and Swedish language versions of Habbo Hotel, document analysis, and an interview with one designer employed by Sulake. The results show how partic-ipation in this virtual... (More)
Through the integrated framework of participation theory and political economy, this article analyzes participatory opportunities in the virtual world Habbo Hotel, and how participation is constrained and framed by the producer’s commercial strategies, which are based on advertising and sales of virtual goods. The study also looks into the ways in which the producer Sulake Corporation discursively represents the virtual world, and how the users with various forms of tactics try to bypass the commercial constraints. The methods used include observations of the English and Swedish language versions of Habbo Hotel, document analysis, and an interview with one designer employed by Sulake. The results show how partic-ipation in this virtual world takes minimalist forms, and that it is foremost an are-na for interaction and consumption. Users’ participation in the virtual world is constrained by the commercial strategies in numerous ways, and the producer strategically takes advantage of children’s need to gain status in their peer group, in order to get them to purchase on the site. Habbo Hotel is represented by the producer as a safe and creative environment with learning opportunities for the children. Observations of the virtual world instead reveal Habbo as a panopticon-like shopping mall where users, through the practice of begging and other tactics, try to resist the commercial strategies. Virtual worlds could be potential spaces for children’s participation and contribute to a democratization of the social; howev-er, this study shows how participation in this virtual world is clearly structured and limited for commercial purposes. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Habbo Hotel, children, virtual worlds, participation, political economy, advertising, virtual goods, tactics
in
Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research
volume
6
pages
698 - 721
publisher
Linköping University Electronic Press
ISSN
2000-1525
DOI
10.3384/cu.2000.1525.146697
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
855e2afd-ba48-4389-ad40-b1f32a93c194 (old id 4588421)
alternative location
http://www.cultureunbound.ep.liu.se/v6/a38/cu14v6a38.pdf
date added to LUP
2014-08-18 14:00:03
date last changed
2016-04-15 23:56:46
@article{855e2afd-ba48-4389-ad40-b1f32a93c194,
  abstract     = {Through the integrated framework of participation theory and political economy, this article analyzes participatory opportunities in the virtual world Habbo Hotel, and how participation is constrained and framed by the producer’s commercial strategies, which are based on advertising and sales of virtual goods. The study also looks into the ways in which the producer Sulake Corporation discursively represents the virtual world, and how the users with various forms of tactics try to bypass the commercial constraints. The methods used include observations of the English and Swedish language versions of Habbo Hotel, document analysis, and an interview with one designer employed by Sulake. The results show how partic-ipation in this virtual world takes minimalist forms, and that it is foremost an are-na for interaction and consumption. Users’ participation in the virtual world is constrained by the commercial strategies in numerous ways, and the producer strategically takes advantage of children’s need to gain status in their peer group, in order to get them to purchase on the site. Habbo Hotel is represented by the producer as a safe and creative environment with learning opportunities for the children. Observations of the virtual world instead reveal Habbo as a panopticon-like shopping mall where users, through the practice of begging and other tactics, try to resist the commercial strategies. Virtual worlds could be potential spaces for children’s participation and contribute to a democratization of the social; howev-er, this study shows how participation in this virtual world is clearly structured and limited for commercial purposes.},
  author       = {Martinez, Carolina},
  issn         = {2000-1525},
  keyword      = {Habbo Hotel,children,virtual worlds,participation,political economy,advertising,virtual goods,tactics},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {698--721},
  publisher    = {Linköping University Electronic Press},
  series       = {Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research},
  title        = {'This one's for VIP users' : Participation and Commercial Strategies in Children's Virtual Worlds},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.3384/cu.2000.1525.146697},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2014},
}