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The Dao of Space Piracy: Ethics and Chinese Modernity in EVE Online

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Title: The Dao of Space Piracy: Ethics and Chinese Modernity in EVE Online
Authors: Page, Richard
Keywords: Ethics
Virtual Worlds
Issue Date: Dec 2016
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2016]
Abstract: This dissertation argues that players of the online game EVE Online in China construct EVE as an ethical world through the cultivation of their relationships with other players, drawing on Chinese tradition and Chinese modernity in their concern for their selves. I describe how Chinese players of EVE construct an alternative modernity through their play of the game, drawing on both tradition and modern concerns; Chinese players play conservatively in EVE because avoiding risk and saving money are cultural values emerging from traditional duties to the family and China’s modern economic situation. I argue that an anthropology of ethics helps to explain how EVE players make use of both traditional and modern virtues without becoming victim to a hegemony of either tradition or modernity. Players act in freedom to subjectify themselves to the project of playing EVE in China. I develop a new foundation for an anthropology of ethics from Confucian ethics, which is based on cultivation of a relationally-formed self. I examine three different relationships in EVE. First I consider how leaders cultivate relationships with their alliance members; good leaders are able to both build strong relationships and compel non-compliant players to work for the good of the group. Then, I look at the relationship players have with strangers. The lack of an ethical relationship with an individual stranger allows ruthless play in EVE, but the relationship between the player and the imagined community of EVE players places some limits on this kind of play. Finally, I discuss the relationship players have with the developers of the game. Developers have a responsibility to build code that supports the ethical world of EVE; violations of this world through real-money transactions and the use of automated scripts are seen as threats by many players not because they believe that EVE is or should be a transcendentally separated world, but because they believe these practices threaten the project of EVE.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Anthropology

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