This study, undertaken in conjunction with Marie Griffiths at the University of Salford, concerned the appropriation of an online play space known as Habbo Hotel. Habbo Hotel, as a site of media convergence, incorporates social networking and digital gaming functionality. Our research highlighted the ethical problems such a dual classification of technology may bring. We focus upon a particular set of activities undertaken within and facilitated by the space – scamming. Scammers dupe members with respect to their ‘Furni’, virtual objects that have online and offline economic value. Through our analysis we show that sometimes, online activities are bracketed off from those defined as offline and that this can be related to how the technology is classified by members – as a social networking site and/or a digital game. In turn, this may affect members’ beliefs about rights and wrongs. We conclude that given increasing media convergence, the way forward is to continue the project of educating people regarding the difficulties of determining rights and wrongs, and how rights and wrongs may be acted out with respect to new technologies of play online and offline.
A copy of the paper associated with this work can be found here.