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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Virtual worlds are two- or three-dimensional spaces with multiple modalities in which users can engage in mediated interactions with other users. In virtual worlds, users have the freedom to craft and assume identities that are unburdened by offline biases based on gender, race, and other sociodemographic characteristics. How do men and women build collaborative and socio-emotional relationships in these worlds? Does gender influence social network dynamics online, consistent with offline gender norms? This chapter first offers an overview of gender disparities and social relationships in virtual worlds, followed by a review of the challenges and benefits of the current approaches to studying gender and virtual worlds. Then it provides an empirical research example, situated in the massively multiplayer online game EverQuest II (EQII), focusing on gender and networks of collaboration. It concludes by identifying a few limitations to current approaches and suggesting future directions with digital trace data.

Keywords: gender, virtual worlds, online games, social networks, digital trace data

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