Beyond the Magic Circle is a fascinating study into the social and network aspects of online roleplaying games, in particular World of Warcraft
, which was the case study for this PhD thesis.
Copier paints a picture of the roleplaying elements that are possible within a MMORPG that is mainly geared towards more goal-oriented play (instrumental play), while at the same time, she embeds WoW
in a more general history of (Fantasy) roleplaying.
Particularly interesting are the experiences of interviewed players themselves (and the author), as well as the analysis of the way in which the roleplaying experience can intertwine itself with 'real life', thereby challenging theories that emphasise the Magic Circle that is said to separate games and regular life.
This thesis is based mainly on one case study, and it would be interesting to see this perspective applied to a broader spectrum of roleplaying games. There is also more room for theorising, but I think Copier has given the young scientific area of games research a fine impulse with this work.