Digital media present opportunities for new types of consumption including desiring, buying, collecting, making, and even selling digital virtual goods. To these activities we can add those taking place in virtual communities of consumption, online shops, brand websites, and online auction houses that together amount to a vast new landscape of consumption. Digital virtual consumption motivates concatenated practices which produce meaningful experience for their users as well as market opportunities to profit from them. Consumers create and maintain elaborate wish lists, engaging with simulations of brands on websites and in videogames, coveting items for use in online games and even spending ‘real’ money on these, undertaking entrepreneurial activity in virtual worlds, conjuring nostalgia via online auctions, engaging in playful consumption in other new retail formats, writing reviews of products as part of the consumption experience, engaging in online activist activities, and many other emerging behaviors.
Analyses of consumption in the digital virtual realm are however limited. This collection brings together experienced researchers from the fields of consumer research, digital games, and virtual worlds to provide conceptual and empirical work that helps us understand these new and significant consumer activities. Online communities negotiate the ‘correct’ use of goods and offer technical advice, consumers develop new products, individuals create and distribute their own promotional material for their favorite brands, and entrepreneurial consumers marketing and selling their own products online. Here we may see a blurring of consumption and production, or work and leisure activity that requires further thought about what makes it meaningful for individuals. The chapters in this volume take stock of the emergence and likely importance of digital virtual consumption for consumer culture, including a review of both new and existing conceptual and methodological tools as well as a resource of key examples and analyses of practices.
1. Introduction to Digital Virtual Consumption Janice Denegri-Knott and Mike Molesworth Part 1: Contexts and Perspectives 2. A History of the Digitalization of Consumer Culture Vili Lehdonvirta 3. Young American Consumers and New Technologies Alladi Venkatesh and Nivein Behairy 4. True Values of False Objects: Virtual Commodities in Games David Myers 5. First Person Shoppers: Consumer Ways of Seeing in Videogames Mike Molesworth 6. Transforming Digital Virtual Goods into Meaningful Possessions Janice Denegri-Knott, Rebecca Watkins and Joseph Wood 7. Reflections in Spacetime: Reconsidering Kozinets (1999) Twelve Years Later Rob Kozinets 8. What Happens to Materiality in Digital Virtual Consumption? Paolo Magaudda Part 2: Places and Practices 9. Online Investing as Digital Virtual Consumption: The Production of the Neoliberal Subject Detlev Zwick 10. Playing the Market and Sharing the Loot: Consumption Limits in a Virtual World Sandy Ross 11. Taking One – or Three – For the Team: Consumerism as Gameplay in Woot.com Melinda Jacobs 12. Creating Virtual Selves in Second Life Handan Vicdan and Ebru Ulusoy 13. Consumption Without Currency: The Role of the Virtual Gift Economy in Second Life Jennifer Martin 14. Eve Online as Meaningful Virtual World Pétur Jóhannes Óskarsson 15. Conclusions: Trajectories of Digital Virtual Consumption Mike Molesworth and Janice Denegri-Knott. List of Contributors. Notes. Index
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