Abstract - The Information Society 30(1)

The Virtual Culture Industry: Work and Play in Virtual Worlds

Marcus Schulzke

This essay uses Horkheimer and Adorno’s work on the culture industry to analyze virtual worlds and Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games. While artificial worlds have enormous potential to facilitate communication, transcend spatial boundaries, promote free expression, and protect marginalized groups, the utopian promise of these worlds is undermined by their mirroring of real world market systems, the exploitation of labor, and blurring the line between entertainment and work. The culture industry thesis provides a useful starting point for theorizing virtual worlds and explaining why these places have become mirrors of real world economic relations.


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