Marcus Carter

Marcus Carter is a Research Fellow in the Microsoft Research Centre for Social NUI at The University of Melbourne. His PhD explored the playful experience of treachery and betrayal in online games such as EVE Online and DayZ.

Contact information:
marcusc at

Martin Gibbs

Martin Gibbs is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing and Information Systems at The University of Melbourne. His current teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of Science & Technology Studies (STS), and Human-Computer Interaction and are focused on the sociable use of interactive technologies.

Contact information:
martin.gibbs at

Michael Arnold

Michael Arnold is a Senior Lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Science Programme in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, at The University of Melbourne. His on-going teaching and research activities lie at the intersection of contemporary digital technologies, societyand cultures.

Contact information:
mvarnold at

The Demarcation Problem in Multiplayer Games: Boundary-Work in EVE Online's eSport

by Marcus Carter, Martin Gibbs, Michael Arnold


Boundary-work is a theory developed by the sociologist Thomas F. Gieryn which accounts for the process of demarcating scientific and non-scientific intellectual activities. This paper argues that boundary-work is a constructive theory for understanding the processes through which players develop and dispute informal social rules that mediate play in online multiplayer games. The argument is illustrated through application of a boundary-work analysis to a disputed instance of play in an EVE Online tournament.

Keywords: eSports, sport, boundary-work, demarcation problem, EVE Online, metagaming, metagame, match throwing, tournament, sportsmanship.


The vast majority of definitions or conceptual understandings of games require the presence of rules of some kind. It has long been recognized that there is more than one category of rules in games, with at least three types well explicated in the context of online games; coded, formal and informal [1]. Coded rules [2] refer to the limitations of digital environments; through prohibiting or not enabling certain actions within the game, designers rule against them (e.g. we cannot turn our Halo (Bungie, 2001) avatars into dinosaurs or shoot members of our own team in Team Fortress 2 (Valve Corporation, 2007)). Formal rules [3] are official rules which dictate that some forms of play are illegitimate, even if they are possible (e.g. stealing in World of Warcraft (Blizzard, 2004) or the use of auto-aim bots in Battlefield 3 (DICE, 2011)). These rules are “official”, in that someone with authority (the developer, or tournament officials) dictates them, and violation can result in punishment. They are often found in documents like Terms of Service (ToS), End User License Agreements (EULA), with different formal rules dictated for different play contexts (such as eSport tournaments, see Taylor, 2012, or certain styles of guild play, see Brown, 2012). The third category, informal rules [4], are those implicit rules determined collectively by a community of players against types of play unregulated by coded or formal rules (e.g., kill-stealing or camping).

Though not required in order to play a game, informal rules are crucially important in the play of multiplayer games, where players have the capacity to impact on the pleasurable experience of other players. Players develop informal rules as part of an effort to collectively maximize the appeal of playing. This is because coded and formal rules are rarely sufficient when it comes to restricting the situated, meaning-making contextual negotiations of play. Informal rules also play an important role in how players learn the “right” way to play a particular game, in spirit as well as conduct. Though the existence (Brown, 2012), learning (Taylor, 2006, 2012), violation (Myers, 2008, 2010) and policing (Moeller et. al., 2009) of informal rules has been examined and discussed, no theory has yet been developed [5] to explicitly account for the process by which these informal rules are developed, negotiated, disputed and maintained in multiplayer games. In this paper we argue that the sociological theory of boundary-work, developed to understand the demarcation problem in science, constructively describes how informal rules are negotiated by players.

Boundary-work is a theory developed by the sociologist Thomas F. Gieryn (1983, 1999). It provides an account of the processes through which science is demarcated from other intellectual activities in society. Gieryn argues that it is through the rhetorical work of attributing selected characteristics to the institution of science (e.g., its practice, methods or values) that “scientists establish a social boundary that distinguishes some intellectual activities as ‘non-science’” (1983, p. 782). It is possible to identify this process through an examination of a debate’s rhetoric. The theory has been applied widely; from global warming (Zehr, 2000) and string theory (Ritson & Camilleri, 2013), to nursing homes (Åkerström, 2002) and Princess Diana’s death (Bishop, 1999). It has even been applied to understanding the discipline of game studies (Copier, 2003).

The term “boundary-work” is somewhat of a meme in sociological studies. It is by no means a unique phrase, and it has been frequently invoked in game studies literature (e.g., Lee and Lin 2005; Taylor 2006). However, with the exception of Marinka Copier’s (2003) application to the study of the discipline of game studies itself, Gieryn’s theory of boundary-work has not been rigorously applied in the study of games. Based upon data collected from a disputed instance in an eSport final from the massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) EVE Online (CCP Games, 2003), we argue that Gieryn’s boundary-work — with some extensions — provides a suitable framework for understanding the establishment and maintenance of informal social rules in multiplayer games.

This paper begins with a detailed introduction of Gieryn’s theory of boundary-work, identifying the key mechanisms and strategies Gieryn identified in his original work. Following this, we will provide a critical review of the existing literature that has engaged with informal game rules in multiplayer, online games. We will then discuss the relevant background and context for EVE Online and the eSport match upon which this paper focuses: the highly controversial throwing of the 9th Alliance Tournament final. Following a brief account of the methodology of this research, we will then present an analysis of the rhetoric used to argue whether or not the act of the events that occurred during the match were legitimate or illegitimate forms of play. Finally, we use the case to illustrate the applicability of Gieryn’s theory of boundary-work for understanding how informal, social rules are developed and maintained in online multiplayer games.

Boundary Work

Scientists, and philosophers of science, have long grappled with the “demarcation problem”; the inability to identify the “unique and essential characteristics of science that distinguish it from other kinds of intellectual activities” (1983, p. 781). Historically, this problem has principally concerned itself with the efforts of the scientific community to distinguish its knowledge claims from (and gain legitimacy over) the knowledge claims of religious theology. More recently, the problem of demarcation has sought to deal with the rise of “pseudo-sciences” such as creationism and homeopathy, and to defend the besieged science of global warming (Zehr, 2000).

Thomas Gieryn’s sociological theory of boundary-work provides an account of the process through which scientific and non-scientific knowledge are demarcated. Rather than there being core qualities of knowledge or practices which make them “scientific”, he understands the demarcation of science from non-science as an “ideological effort” (1983, p. 782) by scientists. Though developed for understanding the demarcation of intellectual activity, Gieryn represents the theory of boundary-work as a "sociological follow-up" (1999, p. 4) to Clifford Geertz's (1973) suggestion "there is a great deal more to say ... about how thought provinces are demarcated"(Geertz, 1973, p. 21). We argue that Gieryn's boundary-work is a suitable theory for understanding the process through which the implicit, informal rules (a form of Geertz's “thought provinces”) that dictate legitimate from illegitimate play are developed in multiplayer games.

Boundary-work "is brought on by disputes over credibility" (1999, p. 340); it is "the attribution of selected characteristics to the institution of science for purposes of constructing a social boundary that distinguishes ‘non-scientific’ intellectual or professional activities" (1983, p. 791). These characteristics are selected from what Gieryn refers to as science’s “repertoire of stylistic resources” [6]; and include concepts such as experimentation, skepticism and objectivity. Gieryn notes that the properties attributed to science through this discursive work are contingent on the context of the instance of boundary-work. For example, against religion, John Tyndall (1820-1893) emphasized science's practical use, while at the same time focusing on science as theoretical when performing boundary-work against craftsmen and engineers. Indeed, the "characteristics attributed to science are sometimes inconsistent with each other because of scientists’ need to erect separate boundaries in response to challenges from different obstacles" (1983, p. 792). The internal inconsistencies in what “sciences are expected to be”provide diverse ideological resources for use in instances of boundary-work (1983, p. 792).

While the attribution of selected characteristics to science is the style of boundary-work, the content often involves the rhetorical work of contrast cases and expulsions. Contrast cases focus on selected attributes of science along with applying the inverse of those attributes to contesting domains for the purpose of achieving the goal of that instance of boundary-work. For example, in contestations over authority and resources between religion and science, the practical application of science is attributed in contrast to religion, which is, in practical application, "limited to aid and comfort in emotional matters" (1999, p. 46). In contests over the autonomy of modern science in the West during the cold-war, university-based science is depicted as yielding "‘basic’ rather than ‘applied’ knowledge" (Gieryn, 1983, p. 791) and it is applied science that drives technological progress and the development of military technologies. Hence, the conduct and communication of basic science should not be restricted by government.

In addition to the rhetorical work of contrast cases, Gieryn also notes expulsions as a genre of boundary-work (1999, p. 15). These occur in science during instances of dispute within science, rather than against another intellectual authority, oftentimes when a new discipline emerges. In these cases, "neither side wishes to challenge or attenuate the epistemic authority of science itself, but rather to deny privileges of the space to others" (1999, p. 16). Gieryn argues that each side of this debate attempts to stress the legitimacy of their position as being within science, and often (though not necessarily) the other outside. This is accomplished through re-establishing or re-emphasizing the boundaries of science through appealing to selected attributes in a manner contingent on the historical and social context of the dispute. A recent example of this form of boundary-work has been identified (Ritson & Camilleri, 2013) around the practice of string-theory; accused by opponents of being detached from empirical evidence, and ensuing debates focusing on the extent to which science necessitates empiricism.

In this paper we will demonstrate how players use these forms of rhetorical works to demarcate between play which is legitimate or illegitimate and to establish and maintain the informal game rules. A key question in applications of Gieryn's boundary-work is the question, “why?” Why is this dispute happening? What is the contest over? In debates with religion and pseudo-science, boundary-work often occurs over public resources and intellectual authority. Against government intervention or restriction, boundary-work occurs to protect scientific autonomy. Thus, some conceptualization of why boundary-work occurs in games — why players contest over informal rules — is necessary. Establishing this drive for boundary-work in games is necessary to understand the boundary-work itself, and the boundaries it establishes.

Informal Rules and Social Norms in Online Games

David Myers (2008, 2010) used his infamous City of Heroes (Cryptic Studios, 2004) character “Twixt” to explore the informal and implicit social rules that are found in online games. While strictly following the formal rules of the game, Myer repeatedly conducted what he refers to as “breaching experiments” (2008, p. 6), which involved abiding “entirely by the objective rules of the game... without reference to or concern with any social rules of conduct established by the game’s players” (p. 6). In City of Heroes, these breaching experiments involved carefully acknowledging and following the developer-stated goals of the “Recluse’s Victory” zone, a player-versus-player (PvP) combat arena. As a PvP zone, this meant that Twixt (at all times) played to “win the zone” and in order to do so, Myers employed tactics that violated informal social rules. For example, he used the tactic “droning”; teleporting opposing players next to non-player character “drones” which would immediately vaporize them, and returning them to their starting area. Droning was a tactic “widely denigrated” on City of Heroes forums and discussion a “‘skill-less’ tactic, ruining otherwise ‘fun’ battles” (p. 8) For Twixt, who rigidly followed Myer’s interpretation of the game developer’s stated narrative-goals and hard-coded rules of the game, droning was a useful tactic to “thwart villain intentions” (p. 7).

For employing this tactic and others across numerous City of Heroes servers, “Twixt” became one of City of Heroes most “reviled, abused player[s]” (Vargas, 2009). Twixt was routinely petitioned by players to the game moderators for his actions, but as his tactics did not violate the game’s design or EULA, Twixt went unpunished. In place of official justice, player hatred towards Twixt resulted in social isolation, threats of real-life violence and a wide variety of in-game abuse and harassment. For Myer, the purpose of these breaching experiments was to observe how social rules adapt to system rules, an impossible observation in real-world environments where “natural laws” are part of the same system in which social rules exist. Based upon his experience as/with Twixt, Myers argues that they do not; "if game rules pose some threat to social order, these rules are simply ignored"; players place recognition of the implicit rules of the game above recognition of the formal rules of the game.

T.L. Taylor (2006) has discussed at length how individual players of the MMOG Everquest (EQ) (Sony Online Entertainment, 1999) learn the social norms of games. Taylor points out that, while the game manual and other official materials provide basic guidelines for how to play, new players are “socialized into the space [of EQ] and over time learn what it means to become a good EQ player” (p. 36). Taylor emphasizes the way in which EQ has been designed to necessitate social networks for high-level play, and argues that this plays an important part in the establishment and respect of the norms of the game; “given the deep reliance on social networks to progress, sustained bad behavior, while it does occur, carries significant costs and is typically weeded out” (p. 36). Similarly, Ross & Weaver (2012) found that victims of griefing were more likely to grief than non-victims, emphasising the importance of observational learning in how players "form expectations about the game environment" (p. 109).

Moeller, Esplin and Conway (2009) have also investigated informal social rules in online games. Drawing upon Smith’s (2004) concept of extra-mechanical conflict — conflict that emerges in online games as a consequence of them being social spaces — Moeller et. al. investigated how players of online sports games turned to online discussion forums "to negotiate and police their online play behaviors for their chosen game" (Moeller et. al., 2009). They found that the concept of sportsmanship, understood as a concept which "governs the way sports are played in relation to larger societal expectations and values", heavily relied on depicting conduct as unacceptable (being unsportsmanlike). Boundaries were further put in place through rhetoric establishing online sports games as realistic simulations of real-life play, thus condemning players who exploit glitches or unplug their machines when losing. Their detailed analysis of the rhetoric of these debates illustrates the wide variety of complex concepts that become involved in development and dispute of informal rules in multiplayer games.

In a different context, Ashley Brown has investigated (2012) the policing of local norms in World of Warcraft's erotic role-play (ERP) community. Brown found a wide variety of informal rules within the ERP community, and argued that the existence of these complex norms was a testament to the gameness of ERP in World of Warcraft (in contrast to say, cybersex). Validating our understanding of informal rules as being developed as part of an effort to collectively maximize the appeal of playing, Brown also found that they “give players a more rewarding experience of the game" (p. 263). As a community with restricted membership, there exist “formalized” informal rules; the ERP community Brown studied had a list of rules (e.g., against pedophilic role play), and violation “results in punishment ranging from a chat with officers to removal from the guild” (p. 65, see also Chen, 2011, for similar discussions regarding an elite raiding guild). Consequently, due to the necessary membership in the community to engage in ERP, these “official” rules can be understood as formal based on their (potential) impact on player conduct, despite being developed by the community.

Melissa de Zwart (2009) also invokes informal rules as a key category in the governance of MMOGs. She argues that these rules, “enforced by the social contract of the community itself” (p. 6), may be one of the most influential forms of governance in online games. Similarly, Humphreys (2008) has explicitly identified practices by online game developers to facilitate and encourage the development of these social rules. Thus, considering the varied way in which game scholars have emphasised the importance of informal rules to the play of contemporary multiplayer games, understanding in more detail the process by which these norms develop and stabilize will contribute to understanding the process of governance in MMOGs, how homogeneous communities of play develop, and how to improve systems for avoiding conflict between players in multiplayer games.


This research emerged out of a project investigating the problematic transition which EVE Online’s eSports (eveSports) faces as it becomes professionalized (Carter and Gibbs, 2013). As we have noted elsewhere (see Carter, 2014) it is not possible to study the play between EVE Online’s large Alliances as a disinterested observer. Consequently, we note that the participants of this study considered the interviewer to be a member of TEST Alliance, a group which encourages treacherous play such as scamming, espionage and bribery (see also Carter, 2015). In this project, 26 interviews were conducted with a mix of competitors, spectators and commentators, ranging between 18 and 35 years old. These semi-structured interviews were conducted through a variety of media (text chat, Email and offline) and involved discussing the appeal of eveSports and exploring the way that these players rationalised the acceptability of eveSport play. In her ethnography of professional eSport players, T.L. Taylor has argued (2009, 2012) that, despite new motivations for play such as monetary gain or fame, social rules in eSports remain close to the social rules found in the parent game. Consequently, though eSports differs to other forms of online gaming, it is a suitable site for this study and findings are generalizable to other multiplayer games.

Further data was collected from publicly available online discussion boards and forums, in particular the official EVE Online forums and the comments on the official YouTube videos of eveSport matches. Further analysis occurred in the preparation of this paper, which involved the categorization of all 225 comments on the official YouTube video of a thrown tournament final (CCP Games, 2011), which identified the breadth of inclusions and exclusions of the unique play style. While initially only players with dissenting opinions can be expected to have voiced their opinions, the widespread and vitriolic debate saw opposing arguments widely expressed (which may not have occurred in a less contested debate). Data was analyzed using methods congruent with grounded theory (Charmaz, 2005), and coded into relevant themes. These formed the basis for theory development and identified the principal filaments of boundary-work involved in this particular debate. Boundary-work (Gieryn, 1983, 1999) acted as a sensitizing concept (see Bowen, 2006) that provided theoretical foundation for the development of theory in the memo-ing process. Unless otherwise referenced, all quotes in this paper are sourced from the comments section of this YouTube video.

EVE Online

EVE Online features a wide and complex variety of interesting and complex styles of game play, game cultures and interactions. This paper concerns itself with EVE’s unique “anything goes” ethos regarding the conduct of its players. Unlike other online games which invoke EULA’s or Codes of Conduct to regulate transgressive and undesirable forms of play, EVE Online’s developers explicitly state that, as long as the play does not involve the use of technical exploits, conduct such as scamming or stealing is a “legal in-game cheat” (CCP Games, n.d.) This anarchic approach to player conduct constitutes a core facet of EVE Online’sappeal to many players, and is well situated within the hyper-capitalistic dystopian narrative of the game where “anything goes”.

EVE Online’s anything goes ethos has had a wide variety of effects. Principally, it has resulted in a broad range of engaging forms of emergent play — as a “sandbox” MMOG, EVE Online encourages the emergence of forms of play unintended or unexpected by the game designers. Through making legal (nearly) anything that occurs without technical exploit, players are encouraged to more broadly use the capacity of treachery, betrayal or other forms of social play in their EVE Online experience. While some authors (see Craft, 2007) have criticized the morality of this kind of play, EVE Online is referred to by Miguel Sicart (2009) as the modern MMOG “closest to the goal of ethical soundness” (p. 112) as all players are “full, mature ethical beings” (p. 188).


The widespread professionalization of amateur computer-game play (aka, eSports — see Wagner, 2006; Hutchins, 2008; Witowski, 2009 and Taylor, 2012) is also occurring in EVE Online. “eveSports” are officially organised competitive matches between teams of EVE Online players. Occurring since 2006, the majority of these tournaments have been stylised as “Alliance Tournaments”; each of EVE’s powerful in-game alliances submit teams sourced from their most skilled pilots in a competition of superiority. Victory in the Alliance Tournament (AT) is prestigious, as it indicates the high skills of that alliance in PvP and many of the larger alliances invest heavily to achieve an edge in the tournament.

Deception, scamming, spying and bribing underpin what players frequently refer to as EVE’s eSport “metagame”. In this context, the term metagame is referring to the use of tactics which involve knowledge or (typically social) practices that occur outside of the battle arena. For example, it is commonplace in eveSports to spy on other teams as they practice; a tactic not wholly unheard of in professional sports. However, EVE Online players take this significantly further, utilizing deception to develop alternate identities in opposing alliances in order to gain access to their private, internal forum discussions about battle tactics and fleet doctrines. Some players employing such espionage may also attempt to disrupt that Alliance’s capabilities to perform in the tournament. One engaging instance from eveSports history involved a player, disgruntled by an opponent Alliance defeating his own, embedding himself in his opposing Alliance’s eveSport team. Shortly after the match began, this player turned on his teammates in an attempt to throw the match and rob his conquerors of victory. A CCP developer on the official game forums commended this occurrence.

Bribing of players and teams is also common. Many teams have confessed to offering or receiving offers of payment to throw matches for the benefit of other teams. Though the disruption of entire match results is uncommon, one Alliance Tournament 10 case involved a team close to victory publicly paying 2 billion in-game credits to an opponent to ensure absolute victory, which was necessary to gain the bonus points they required to proceed to the next round. We have elsewhere (Carter & Gibbs, 2013) discussed the appeal of these practices in more detail.

However, such skullduggery has caused controversy in the EVE Online community. While EVE Online’s informal rules are well established (in that there is a broad consensus in the EVE Online community and they are subject to little public debate), they are still being developed and publicly disputed in eveSports. Consequently, this presents a rich source of data for using the concepts of boundary work to explore how informal rules develop.

Alliance Tournament 9

The most prominent example of a controversy in EVE’s eSport is the case of the 9th Alliance Tournament final, between the two teams “Outbreak.” and “HYDRA RELOADED”. The 9th Alliance Tournament was well fought, and a small number of surprising match results kept commentators and spectators on their toes as the tournament developed. “Pandemic Legion”, winners for 3 years in a row, were crushed by under-dog “DarkSide.” who had brought an unexpected set up perfectly countered to Pandemic Legion’s fleet. Two teams in particular had dominated the tournament; “Outbreak.” and “HYDRA RELOADED”, and the final was live-streamed to thousands of EVE Online players.

The match began, and Outbreak swiftly gained the upper hand. The ships of HYDRA were being quickly destroyed. A win for Outbreak looked inevitable. They had brought a perfect set up to counter Hydra’s fleet, and had “fairly” won the battle. However, a few minutes into the game the balance of the match suddenly changed; the remaining HYDRA ships strangely began taking less damage; their shields restored, and one by one the Outbreak ships were blown to pieces. It soon became apparent that the final was being thrown. Outbreak had actively changed its tactics, allowing HYDRA’s only remaining high-damage ship to slowly pick off Outbreak’s ships one-by-one.

In the ensuing uproar, it was revealed to the EVE Community that Outbreak was a “B-Team” to Hydra. In his account of the entire saga, HYDRA player Duncan detailed how they had split into two teams to attract sufficient players to practices (Duncan, 2011). HYDRA RELOADED was an in-game Alliance, constituted of numerous corporations including “Outbreak”. Thus, in order to enter multiple teams, the Corporation “Outbreak” left HYDRA RELOADED and formed its own Alliance (Outbreak), solely for the purpose of entering the AT under two teams. The final match was thrown in the favor of HYDRA so that the prestige of winning the AT would be attributed to the main, permanent Alliance.

It soon emerged that the collusion between these two teams was not limited to the thrown final. The management of the two teams was conducted in unison, and their members had conducted extensive deception, espionage and work to ensure that the two teams met in the final. Members of these teams had spied on the practice sessions of other teams in order to ascertain the possible strategies those teams might use. They had, months in advance, joined several opposing Alliances to plant spies on other teams. Further, they had selectively fed intelligence to weaker teams to knock out stronger opponents (such as tournament incumbent Pandemic Legion), and had also developed new tactics for preventing others from learning their own fleet doctrines. The various accounts that emerged in the following weeks suggested that this effort required hundreds of hours of work and difficult diplomacy and subterfuge.

The following public discussions on YouTube, gaming news websites and various forums and discussion boards represents a case of boundary-work by players arguing over the acceptability of this form of play in the emerging eSport. Debate raged until the developer CCP Games stepped in, choosing to null the match result and ban players of both teams, not necessarily for throwing the match, but for entering two teams and practicing together.

Demarcating Play

In this section, we explore the arguments made by participants in the dispute about whether throwing the tournament was acceptable or unacceptable. We suggest this negotiation is a form of boundary work because participants in the debate are attempting to demarcate legitimate and illegitimate forms of play. We argue that this analysis demonstrates the benefit of using the concepts of boundary-work to explore how informal rules develop. In the subsequent and final section, we discuss the value of this expanded understanding.

Play as not Cheating

stop crying. nothing here was against the rules (NeilDeBarna, 2011)

HYDRA and Outbreak’s collusion was acceptable because it did not break any rules outlined by CCP Games. Numerous critics of HYDRA and Outbreak simply condemned the play as cheating. Cheating is, after all, a powerful concept when considering play as acceptable or unacceptable. Consequently, this concept became hotly contested. Defenders quickly appealed to definitions of cheating which stipulate that to cheat, one has to “break the rules”:

it can only be called cheating if any rule or law against this act has been laid down by CCP (Tobi Ogunsanwo, 2011) at no point did they break the rules (4rchf13nd, 2011)

Through doing so, these participants argue that the pertinent boundary contested in this case is between cheating and not cheating. In consequence, numerous defenders of the practice argued for the applicability of a competing definition for cheating; that it is to “gain unfair advantage”. One interview participant argued that because EVE is “fairly unfair”, the label of cheating is inapplicable, as all participants could have done what HYDRA and Outbreak did. Interestingly, this ideological boundary work is somewhat similar to the conduct of Lance Armstrong, a cyclist caught doping following a record breaking career. He claimed that his drug-use was not cheating, as there was no unfair advantage since everyone else was doing it (Guinness, 2013). Similarly, the rhetoric reported during a riot in Zhongxiang, China invoked similar demarcations. Parents of students who failed exams during a crackdown on cheating chanted: “We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat” (Moore, 2013). However, these examples are distinguished from the thrown tournament final as both doping and cheating were clearly disallowed under their respective formal rules.

It is frequently the case in epistemic battles in science that disputes concentrate on essential practices or qualities of science such as objectiveness. Through boundary-work, scientists define and redefine these concepts, establishing and re-establishing the boundary surrounding their intellectual activity in a way that is favorable to them. This debate over the concept of cheating is an excellent example of boundary-work, as it shows similar contestation over the applicability of a label through defining and redefining it to encompass or exclude particular practices. Further, its application to this context re-emphasizes the multiplicity of meanings that a concept like “cheating” can have to players.

Play as Part of the Metagame

this tournament and the last were both won by metagame (spying, intelligence, bribery et al) (JayLPsShiz, 2011)

Hydra and Outbreak’s collusion was acceptable because metagaming is part of eveSports and further; it is what makes eveSports exciting. EVE Online’s eSport has a long history of metagaming, and comments reflected on this:

[Metagaming] makes it [eveSports] a little more interesting b/c of the meta game going on in the background. (tghavok1, 2011)

In his detailed account of the saga, Hydra player “Duncan” referred to the conduct under criticism as metagaming, and emphasised that “Meta gaming, back room deals, scamming and pvp are all equal parts of it [EVE Online]” (Duncan, 2011). In this context, metagame refers to the employment of tactics and strategies in a battle, which involve knowledge, or practices that occur outside of the battle arena. Employing the stylistic resource of “metagame” draws a boundary that demarcates the play as acceptable, as it is within the broader sphere of constituent activities acceptable in EVE Online:

meta gaming is part of EVE Online, get used to it. (darkslaya69, 2011)

The concept of metagame is commonly used in EVE Online to refer to social elements of gameplay that do not directly involve technical interactions within the game client (see Carter, Gibbs & Harrop, 2012, for an in-depth exploration). Under EVE’s established informal rules, metagaming is acceptable and constitutes a core part of the appeal to many players. Through leveraging the concept of metagame, which has a history of acceptance in eveSports and in EVE Online, these players and spectators include Hydra and Outbreak’s tactics within what is acceptable in the game. At the same time, as we will see next, they perform a separate but concurrent ideological effort of including eveSports as part of the broader EVE Online game reflecting the importance of acknowledging the situated and contested meanings of eSport play.

Play as Part of EVE

This is what EVE is all about... there is never going to be an honest tournament in this game, its almost taboo to not do shady things in EVE (peatheatb3, 2011)

Hydra and Outbreak’s collusion was acceptable because this sort of play is acceptable in EVE Online. One of EVE Online’s unique qualities is the “anything goes” ethos that the developers have taken towards restricting player conduct. While most other online games use EULAs or Terms of Service to formalize rules against undesired conduct, CCP Games have only disallowed the utilization of technical exploits. Consequently, scamming, stealing and other malfeasant or dastardly conduct is commonplace. Many players interviewed invoked the acceptability of this form of conduct in EVE as reason for its acceptability in eveSports.

I guess some people would consider it "cheating" and in most sports or esports it would be but EVE has always accepted "anything" goes... sort of ruthless, whatever it takes to win attitude... fairness be damned (personal communication, 09/12)

Similarly, in online debates phrases to the effect of “this is EVE” were the most common defense of the play tactics:

listen everyone, eve is cheating... there is just cheating in eve that’s just part of the game that makes it al little bit cooler (martinni555, 2011)
as everything else in EVE goes, there are no out of bounds (ejflesher, 2011)

The informal social rules of the EVE Online MMOG are well established. However, the Alliance Tournament has a much shorter history and has had significantly less opportunity to develop these informal rules. Through appealing to the extant rules of EVE Online, this ideological effort attempts to establish the thrown final as occurring within EVE where such conduct is acceptable, and, as a consequence demarcating the tactics and stratagems used as legitimate.

Play as a part of eveSport not EVE

Obviously you are too thick-skulled to even realize that the AT is supposed to be a competition. No competition, no point. Enjoy your meta gamed wankfest.(bayouboyy, 2011a)

Hydra and Outbreak’s collusion was unacceptable because it was occurring in eveSports, not in the EVE MMOG. Against those efforts to establish eveSports as “part of EVE”, many critics argued the opposite:

this isn’t eve this is a structured tourney (T27M, 2011)
IT’S A SHAME. DO they even know what does the “T” in AT9 stand for? (wtyisgreat, 2011)

Through appealing to the play’s context in a tournament, these players argue that this play is unacceptable. This redraws the boundaries of the informal rules by placing the play outside of the EVE Online MMOG and relocating it within the realm of tournament play, which has similarly well-established informal (and formal) rules; rules against bribery, match-throwing and other skullduggery:

politics in games to this extent is sickening. These are tournaments, no form of collaborating should have been allowed. (shagmaster1, 2011)

In the context of applying the theory of boundary-work, this rhetorical effort is particularly interesting. Rarely do proponents of intellectual activities attempt to gain epistemic Formatted: Highlight legitimacy by constructing boundaries that establish themselves as excluded from science. The possible occurrence of this should be noted in applications of boundary-work to understanding informal rule negotiation.

Play as Unsportsmanlike/Unskilled/Unfair

Worst AT finale by far. Yes, this is a great example of what happens in EvE. However, the AT should be all about sportsmanship and image. Hydra has now shown t he entire EvE community that they underhanded players. Congratulations, you won and lost at the same time. You have lost any glory to be gained by victory. (bayouboyy, 2011b)

Hydra and Outbreak’s collusion was unacceptable because the Alliance Tournament is about skill, good tactic, sportsmanship, and/or fairplay. As also demonstrated by Moeller et. al. (2009), one of the most used stylistic resources is the concept of sportsmanship. Demarcating play as part of eveSports and not EVE establishes a new domain in which the play is considered unacceptable, but the boundaries of this new domain are ambiguous. In consequence, numerous critics further appealed to concepts associated with “tournaments” in an effort to clarify these new boundaries.

And clearly you fail to see the point of the AT just as the whole bunch of retards here that actually liked this piece of shit. AT should NOT be about spying bribe and all that shit. It should be about skill and good tactics ON THE FIELD (I Love Purple Hazmats, 2011)

We see here excellent examples of boundary-work as spectators attempt to establish what play should be about. Through placing the play within the domain of tournament play, rather than EVE Online, these critiques also begin to pull ideologies from other forms of spectator sports in which individual skill is the primary domain of the competition. “The final, the whole tourney for that matter, should be about pilot skill, not predetermined scripted matches.” (Drykor, 2011)

A necessary condition for competitions to be about individual skill “on the field” is that the competition needs to be fair and balanced, thus requiring “off field” practices to have little bearing on the results of the match. In contrast to these arguments, some players noted how EVE’s eSport is not fair; players with more money are able to fly more expensive ships in the tournament, and players who have been playing for longer have more capable characters to enter. Thus, we see in this regard how the design of the tournament structure and affordances of the virtual environment inform the localities of the debate.

Play as Sport

If germany stops playing against Italy during the next world cup you will say its fine because they know eachother? (startide, 2011)

Hydra and Outbreak’s collusion was unacceptable because the AT is a sport, and this sort of play would never be accepted in a real, professionalized sport. In their attempts to establish eveSports as not being part of EVEOnline, many critics attempted to place eveSports within the domain of sports. Several commenters appealed to the unacceptability of this type of conduct had it occurred in a different professional sport like Soccer.

Phrases such as “on the field’ (eveSport matches are fought in a 200 km diameter bubble in space) are also part of this attempt to re-establish the domain of this debate within sports (where established boundaries demarcate it as unacceptable) rather than as a part of the EVE MMOG.

Another comment attempted to draw similar links, “Hydra should be disqualified for this unathletic behavior” (fuckthatstraight, 2011). This quote is particularly interesting as eSports are normally not considered to be a “sport” due to their seeming lack of athleticism (Witowski, 2009; 2012; Taylor, 2012). This emphasizes one important element of the theory of boundary-work; the concepts invoked and boundaries drawn are “shaped by the local contingencies of the moment” (Gieryn, 1999, p. 5).

Play as Violating the Spirit

The fact is this took away from the spirit of the tournament. (ColWolfe, 2011)

Hydra and Outbreak’s collusion was unacceptable because it violated the spirit of the tournament. In several efforts to establish throwing a final as outside of what is acceptable in eveSports, critics appealed to a notion of the spirit of the competition:

this violates the spirit of the competition, you wanna pull your political, “fixing” nonsense do it in the normal game, not in a fucking tournament. (ColWolfe, 2011)
it is in the spirit of eve but not in the spirit of a combat tournament! (Bubba Lafayette, 2011)

Concepts like “spirit” are inherently ephemeral; it is a requirement that they be negotiated and renegotiated in each unique context. Like informal rules, they can become static and well established, but are rarely well-defined. Consequently, they are a common rhetorical tool in cases of boundary-work in games. We noted earlier that informal rules play an important role in establishing how players learn the “spirit” of the game. In the following section, the relationship between these two concepts will be further explicated.


As stated in the introduction to this paper, we argue that informal rules are developed by players of multiplayer games as part of an effort to collectively maximize the interests (typically, to have fun) of all players. These informal rules are necessary because gameplay exceeds the formal and coded rules of a game. Understanding how informal rules are developed, disputed and maintained is thus crucial for understanding multiplayer games. In this paper, we have argued that Thomas Gieryn’s theory of boundary-work (1983, 1999) constructively describes this process, and have applied it to the analysis of a disputed instance of play in EVE Online’s eSport. In performing this analysis, we have adopted a symmetrical approach to the study of this controversy that would be familiar to STS researchers (Barnes et. al. 1996; Bloor, 1976; Latour, 1993; Pinch et. al. 1984). We have sought to avoid a priori judgements about the acceptability of such play. Rather we have chosen to remain agnostic and follow the controversy in order to chart the contours and understand its character [7]. In approaching this material in this way, we understand the thrown final as providing participants with an occasion, or opportunity, for the negotiation of meaning and values, of acceptable and unacceptable, legitimate and illegitimate behaviour within EVE Online’s eSport.

In presenting the varied and nuanced filaments of this debate, we see a meta-argument emerge regarding where to draw the boundaries that demarcate this play as acceptable, or unacceptable. The first four involved efforts to draw, defend, or attack a boundary between cheating and not cheating, metagaming and gaming, and as a practice within EVE Online, or not. The fifth, which presented arguments involving concepts like “unsportsmanlike” or “fairplay”, were attempts to establish a normative boundary; as much about cultural conceptualizations towards sport and gameplay, as they were related to the specific case. The sixth filament, where players borrowed concepts from traditional physical sports, demonstrated participants attempting to import boundaries from other (well-established) domains, while the seventh — involving the “spirit” of the game — can be understood as attempts to draw metaphysical or transcendent boundaries to demarcate the play as unacceptable. Each of these threads reveals the complexity of multiplayer gameplay and informal rules, and provides insight into the ideological and moral constructs that players have towards EVE Online and its eSport as it transitions from amateur to professional tournament play.

Gieryn’s theory of boundary-work provides an account for how specific forms of intellectual activity are demarcated as scientific, or not-scientific. He argues that each instance of boundary-work is brought on by disputes over credibility, typically driven by competition for public resources and epistemic authority. Tied into how we understand informal rules, this instance of boundary-work around the thrown eveSport final can thus be understood as a dispute over a system of rules, driven by a desire to exclude types of play that diminish the appeal of tournaments. This is congruent with boundary-work, which Gieryn notes:

becomes a means of social control: as the borders get placed and policed, "scientists" learn where they may not roam without transgressing the boundaries of legitimacy, and "Science" displays its ability to maintain the monopoly over preferred norms of conduct (1999, p. 16).

When comparing boundary-work as applied to science, and in multiplayer games, what becomes particularly apparent are the types of stylistic resources that are applied. In his accounts of boundary-work in science, Gieryn identifies mostly epistemological resources; objectivity, experimentation, skepticism, etcetera. These resources reflect the values of science. However within multiplayer games, we see here primarily moral resources; sportsmanship, fair-play, “spirit”, cheating etcetera. Each filament of this debate involves a moral claim of some kind, and an attempt at a logical link to establish this claim as a legitimate domain for the debate, before an a priori claim about what games “should” be about, or what gameplay “should” be acceptable. This difference suggests something about the values and nature of this “thought province” (Geertz, 1973, p. 21). It is in this fashion that the ephemeral concept of “spirit” becomes so powerful in disputes over informal rules, while it would be less effective to argue about the “spirit” of science.

CCP Game’s loose “anything goes” EULA is quite unique. Often, these formalizations become important resources for players attempting to interpret the “absent voice” (Lantz-Andersson & Linderoth, 2011) of the game designer in understanding the “spirit” of the game, and how it should be played. Consider World of Warcraft’s Terms of Use which includes the rule,

You agree that you will not, under any circumstances ... disrupt or assist in the disruption of ... any other player's Game experience.

Such an official qualification (commonly found in fantasy MMOGs) informs rule disputes due to its inclusion in the official rules bounding World of Warcraft conduct. This paratext (Genette, 1997; Consalvo, 2007) establishes a formal rule; your play should not affect another player negatively, in any way, which is utilized (in contested ways) by players when attempting to interpret the “spirit” of World of Warcraft. This subsequently informs the development of the game’s informal rules. Because there is no such rule in EVE Online’sEULA, and as CCP Games rarely intervenes in demarcating EVE Online play as unacceptable (except where technical exploits are used), EVE Online becomes an interesting site for studying the creation of informal social rules. Players must appeal to moral arguments about the game — which reflect their values as an EVE Online player — in order to establish informal rules against undesired game conduct (for example, against turning off the electrical power at the home of your opponent, or conducting “DDOS attacks” against an opponent Alliance’s Mumble or TeamSpeak servers). With such a self-styled “anarchistic” developer, players must turn to the public arena to establish informal rules. Consequently, boundary-work in EVE Online is more transparent for analysis, revealing more data about the character of EVE Online and the process of social rule development and disputation.

A further difference identified in applying boundary-work to this domain is the unique materialization of expulsions as a genre of rhetorical work. In Gieryn’s accounts of contestations over epistemic authority between scientists, all actors are interested in maintaining the position of their work as being within science. Being most “scientific” is, after all, well-established within society as being closest to truth. The boundaries drawn are thus intended to establish themselves within and their opponents outside, thus the domain of the debate ostensibly lies at the differences between the two intellectual practices. However, we see in this debate around EVE Online’s eveSport instances of “self-expulsion”; where participants have attempted to separate eveSports from EVE Online, drawing a boundary which excludes the thrown tournament. Through changing the domain of the debate in this way, EVE Online’s well-established informal rules become inapplicable, or at least debatable. We can thus extend boundary-work to this context, as the motivation driving the dispute remains the same; as part of an attempt to exclude types of play that diminish the appeal of the practice.

Similarly, the efforts to defend (or not defend) the boundary between metagaming and gaming can be constructively understood as another form of expulsion. Not of the holistic practice, but of a specific stylistic resource being used by their opponent. This analysis identified players arguing that the play was acceptable as a result of it being metagaming; which is within the broader collections of practices that constitute playing the game. Others argued that, in a “Player Versus Player” tournament, metagaming is unacceptable. Through expelling the appropriateness or applicability of this resource, critics are able to demarcate the thrown tournament final as unacceptable.

It is important to note that the concepts and language used by players in this example of boundary-work in EVE’s eSport are not necessarily the same concepts and language which will be used by players of other games in different disputations over the acceptability of forms of play. The term metagaming, for example, is used by players of the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (Gygax & Arneson, 1974) to refer to play that is unacceptable, thus its application in that genre would have fundamentally different meanings. This does not challenge the legitimacy of utilizing boundary-work in game studies, rather is noted to emphasize how each individual instance of boundary-work is historically and socially contingent, and must be applied considering the empirical specifics of each case.


A final difference worth noting, between boundary-work in science and over informal rules in multiplayer games, is the existence of an authority capable of settling the debate. In the instance discussed in this paper, the developer CCP Games made a ruling on the event — HYDRA and Outbreak were banned, and their win revoked — and has since included new formal rules in subsequent Alliance Tournaments. This is common; for example, in the tabletop war-game Warhammer 40,000 (Games Workshop, 2012), the developer Games Workshop frequently release regular “FAQ” documents, which formalize informal rules that develop against the use of loopholes in the game’s rules. In informal settings, common practices such as “house rules’ emerge to formally settle disputations (Harrop, 2009). In this way, boundary-work in games differs from boundary-work in science as a third party can exist with the authority to redefine the boundaries of the game. This withstanding, we argue that the process of boundary-work accounts for the rhetorical process of establishing and maintaining informal rules in situations without external intervention, and applying this sociological theory can be beneficial for understanding the moral and ideological constructs involved in playing games.


[1] Other types of rules include diegetic rules (Brown, 2012), physical rules (Vygotsky, 1967), and constituative rules (Salen and Zimmerman, 2004).

[2] Also referred to, often interchangeably, as mechanical rules (Apperley, 2006; Bichard & Waern, 2008), 'hard-coded” or “coded” rules (Bergström, 2010; Ruggles et. al., 2005; Humphreys, 2008), system rules, internal rules (Aarseth, 1997; Humphreys) fixed rules (Huizinga, 1955; Juul, 2003) and operational rules (Salen and Zimmerman, 2004)

[3] Also referred to, often interchangeably, as endogenous rules (Björk & Holopainen, 2003; Montola, 2009), explicit rules (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004; Humphreys & de Zwart, 2012) written rules (Lastowka, 2009) and game rules (Xu et. al., 2011).

[4] Also referred to, often interchangeably, as implicit rules (Kücklich, 2003; Salen & Zimmerman, 2004; Bergström, 2010), social or sociocultural norms (Humphreys & de Zwart, 2012), local norms (Moeller et. al., 2009) exogenous rules (Björk & Holopainen, 2003; Brown, 2012), group rules (Humphreys, 2008), emergent player rules (Lastowka, 2009), meta-rules (Logas, 2011), house rules (Woods, 2004), and socially-negotiated rules (Harrop, 2009).

[5] Concerted effort was researching this area prior to making this claim. The aforementioned variety of terms used in reference to informal rules were used as keywords in a number of academic publication search systems, including Google Scholar, EBSCO Discovery Service, SAGE Publications, the Game Studies journal, the ACM Digital Library, Microsoft Academic Search, and the DiGRA Digital Library. Where keyword searches resulted in a large number of non-game related responses (e.g., “local norms”), “game” and “play” were added to the search string.

[6] This term is borrowed from Geertz, who proposes the study of "stylistic resources" used in constructing ideologies (1973, pp. 212-213).

[7] As briefly noted in the methods section, the interviews were conducted by Carter who is (and presented during the interviews as) a member of TEST Alliance Please Ignore, a group which applauds the use of various “treacherous” play styles (such as scamming, bribery and espionage). Gibbs has played EVE a little (and other MMOGs extensively), while Arnold has no experience with EVE or other MMOGs. This breadth of experience (and non-experience) contributes to the a priori nature of our analysis.


4rchf13nd. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from .

Aarseth, E. (1997). Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.

Apperley, T. (2006). Genre and Game Studies: Toward a Critical Approach to Video Game Genres. Simulation & Gaming, 37(1), 6-23.

Barnes, B., Bloor, D. & Henry, J. (1996). Scientific Knowledge: A Sociological Analysis. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Bayouboyy. (2011a, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Bayouboyy. (2011b, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Bergström, K. (2010). The implicit rules of board games: on the particulars of the lusory agreement. In Proceedings of the 14th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, (pp. 86-93). New York, USA: ACM Press.

Bichard, J. P. & Waern, A. (2008). Pervasive Play, Immersion and Story: Designing Interference. In Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Digital Interactive Media in Entertainment and Arts (pp. 10-17). New York, USA: ACM Press.

Bishop, Ronald. (1999). From behind the walls: Boundary work by news organizations in their coverage of Princess Diana's death. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 23(1), 90-112.

Blizzard. (2012). World of Warcraft Terms of Use. Retrieved 13/02/13 from

Bloor, D. (1976). Knowledge and Social Imagery. London: Routledge.

Brown, A. (2012). No one-handed typing: An exploration of gameness rules and spoilsports in an erotic role play community in World of Warcraft. Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, 4(3), 259-273.

Bubba Lafayette. (2011). “Official Apology Thread Thread”. Page 12. EVE Alliance Tournament Discussion Forums. Retrieved 15/07/13 from

Carter, M., Gibbs, M. & Harrop, M. (2012). Metagames, Paragames and Orthogames: A New Vocabulary. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (pp. 47-54). Chania, Greece: SASDG.

Carter, M. & Gibbs, M. (2013). eSports in EVE Online: Skullduggery, Fair Play and Acceptability in an Unbounded Competition. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (pp. 11-17). New York, USA: ACM Press.

Carter, M. (2014). Emitexts and Paratexts: Propaganda in EVE Online. Games and Culture, 1-32.

Carter, M. (2015). Massively Multiplayer Dark Play: Treacherous Play in EVE Online. In T. Mortensen, J. Linderoth & A. Brown (Eds.), The Dark Side of Game Play. London: Routledge.

CCP Games. (n.d). Scams and Exploits. EVE Online Knowledge Base. Retrieved 8/2/13 from

CCP Games. (2011). EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video]. Retrieved 17/02/15 from

CCP Games. (2013). EVE Online Surpasses 500,000 Subscribers Worldwide. [Press Release]. Retrieved 24/06/13 from

Chen, M. (2011). Leet Noobs: The Life and Death of an Expert Player Group in World of Warcraft. New York: Peter Lang.

ColWolfe. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Combs, N. (2008). A Culture of Mistrust in EVE Online. Terranova. Retrieved 7/2/13 from

Consalvo, M. (2007). Cheating. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Craft, A. J. (2007). Sin in Cyber Eden: Understanding the Metaphysics and Morals of Virtual Worlds. Ethics and Information Technology, (9), 205-217.

Copier, M. (2003). The other game researcher: Participating in and watching the construction of boundaries in game studies. In Proceedings of the 1st International Digital Games Research Association Conference. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Utrecht University Press.

Darkslaya69. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

de Zwart, M. (2009). Piracy vs. Control: Models of Virtual World Governance and Their Impact on Player and User Experience. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 2(3).

Drykor. (2011). “Worst Alliance Tournament Final Ever” EVE Alliance Tournament Discussion Forums. Retrieved 7/2/13 from

Duncan. (2011).“Alliance Tournament 9 — The Hydra and Outbreak Perspective” Failheap Challenge Forums. Retrieved 8/2/13 from

Ejflesher. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Fuckthatstraight. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Geertz, C. (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic: New York.

Genette, G. (1997). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. London: Cambridge University Press.

Gieryn, T. F. (1983). Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from non-Science: Strains and Interests in Professional Ideologies of Scientists. American Sociological Review, (48), 781-795.

Gieryn, T. F. (1999). Cultural Boundaries of Science: Credibility on the Line. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.

Guinness, R. (2013). “Lance: I’m a doper, but no cheat”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8/2/13 from

Harrop, M. (2009). Truce in Online Games. In Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction (pp. 297-300). New York, USA: ACM Press.

Humphreys, S. (2008). Ruling the Virtual World: Governance in Massively Multiplayer Online Games. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 11, 149-171.

Humphreys, S., & Melissa de Zwart. (2012). Griefing, Massacres, Discrimination, and Art: The Limits of Overlapping Rule Sets in Online Games. University of California, Irvine Law Revue, (2), 507-522.

Hutchins, B. (2008). Signs of meta-change in second modernity: the growth of e-sport and the world cyber games. New Media and Society,10(6), 851-869.

Huizinga, J. (1955, originally published in 1938). Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Beacon Press, Boston.

I Love Purple Hazmats. (2011, June 21) Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

JayLPsShiz. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Juul, J. (2003). The game, the player, the world: looking for a heart of gameness. In Proceedings of the 1st International Digital Games Research Association Conference. Utrecht, The Netherlands: Utrecht University Press.

Kücklich, J. (2003). Perspectives of Computer Game Philology. Game Studies 3(1).

Lantz-Andersson, A. & Linderoth, J. (2011). The 'Voice' of Absent Designers: Students' Strategies when Solving Mathematical Problems Using Educational Software. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 6, 52-74.

Latour, B. (1993). We Have Never Been Modern. New York: Harvester.

Lastowka, G. (2009). Planes of Power: Everquest as Text, Game and Community. Game Studies, 9(1).

Logas, H (2011). Meta-Rules and Complicity in Brenda Brathwaite’s Train. In Proceedings of The 5th International Digital Games Research Conference. Hilversum, The Netherlands: DiGRA.

Martinni555. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Moeller, R., Esplin, B. & Conway, S. (2009). Cheesers, Pullers and Glitchers: The Rhetoric of Sportsmanship and the Discourse of Online Sports Games. Game Studies, 9(2).

Moore, M. (2013). “Riot after Chinese teachers try to stop pupils cheating”. The Telegraph. Retrieved 15/07/13 from Comment [NG2]: No reference to this found in text

Montola, M. (2009). The Invisible Rules of Role-Playing: The Social Framework of the Role-Playing Process. International Journal of Role-Playing, 1(1), 22-36.

Myers, D. (2008). Play and Punishment: The Sad and Curious Case of Twixt. In Proceedings of the [Player] Conference (pp. 1-25). Copenhagen, Denmark: IT University.

Myers, D. (2010). Play Redux: The Form of Computer Games. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

NeilDeBarna. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Peatheatb3. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Pinch, T.J. & Bijker, W.E. (1984). The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology might Benefit Each Other. Social Studies of Science, 14, 388-441.

Ritson, S. & Camilleri, K. (2013). Contested Boundaries: String Theory and Ideological Debates in Fundamental Physics. Perspectives on Science, 1-36.

Ritson, S. & Camilleri, K. (2013). Contested Boundaries: String Theory and Ideological DebaRoss, T. L., & Weaver, A. J. (2012). Shall We Play a Game? How the behaviour of others influences strategy selection in a multiplayer game. Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, and Applications, 24(3), 102-112.tes in Fundamental Physics. Perspectives on Science, 1-36.

Ruggles, C., Wadley G. & Gibbs, M. (2005). Online Community Building Techniques used by Video Game Developers. In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Entertainment Computing (pp. 114-125). Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Salen, K. & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Shagmaster1. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Sicart, M. (2009). The Ethics of Computer Games. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Startide. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Smith, J. H. (2004). Playing Dirty - Understanding Conflicts in Multiplayer Games. In Proceedings of the 5th Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (pp. 19-22). Utrecht, The Netherlands: DiGRA.

T27M. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Taylor, T. L. (2006). Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Taylor, T. L. (2009). Negotiating Play: The Process of Rule Construction in Professional Computer Gaming. In Proceedings of the 4th International Digital Games Research Association Conference. Utrecht, The Netherlands: DiGRA.

Taylor, T. L. (2012). Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Tghavok1. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Tobi Ogunsanwo. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Vargas, R. (2009). 'City of Heroes' character 'Twixt' becomes game's most hated outcast courtesy of Loyola professor. New Orleans, LA Local News. Retrieved 4/2/13

Vygotsky, L. S. (1967). Play and its role in the mental development of the child. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 5(3), 6-18.

Wagner, M. (2006). On the Scientific Relevance of eSports. In Proceedings of the 2006 International Conference on Internet Computing and Conference on Computer Game Development (pp. 437-440). Las Vegas, USA: CSREA Press.

Witowski, E. (2009). Probing the Sportiness of eSports. In Christophers, J. & Scholz, T. (Eds.) eSports Yearbook 2009 (pp. 53-56). Norderstedt: Books on Demand GmbH.

Witowski, E. (2012). On the Digital Playing Field: How we “Do Sport” with networked computer games. Games and Culture, 7(5), 349-374.

Woods, Stewart. (2004). Loading the Dice: The Challenge of Serious Videogames. Game Studies 4(1).

Wtyisgreat. (2011, June 21). Re YouTube Video: EVE Online - AT9 Day 4 - Outbreak. Vs HYDRA RELOADED. [YouTube Video comment]. Retrieved 17/02/2015 from

Xu, Y, Barba, E., Radu, I., Gandy, M & MacIntyre, B. (2011). Chores are Fun: Understanding Social Play in Board Games for Digital Tabletop Game Design. In Proceedings of The 5th International Digital Games Research Conference. Hilversum, The Netherlands: DiGRA.

Zehr, S. (2000). Public Representations of Scientific Uncertainty about Global Climate Change. Public Understanding of Science, 9, 85-103.

Åkerström, M. (2002). Slaps, Punches, Pinches — But not Violence: Boundary‐Work in Nursing Homes for the Elderly. Symbolic Interaction, 25(4), 515-536.


Blizzard Entertainment. (2004). World of Warcraft. [Online Game], USA: Irvine, California.

Bungie, Inc. (2001). Halo: Combat Evolved. [Xbox 360], USA: Bellevue, Washington.

CCP Games. (2003). EVE Online. [Online Game], Iceland: Reykjavík.

Cryptic Studios. (2004). City of Heroes. [Online Game], USA: Los Gatos, California.

DICE. (2011). Battlefield 3. [Online Game], Sweden: Stockholm.

Sony Online Entertainment. (1999). Everquest. [Online Game], USA: San Diego, California.

Games Workshop. (2012). Warhammer 40,000 [Tabletop Game], UK: Nottingham.

Gygax, G. & Arneson, D. (1974). Dungeons and Dragons [Tabletop Game], Tactical Strategic Rules.

Valve Corporation. (2007). Team Fortress 2/ [Online Game], USA: Bellevue, Washington.

©2001 - 2015 Game Studies Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the journal, except for the right to republish in printed paper publications, which belongs to the authors, but with first publication rights granted to the journal. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings.