Acta Universitatis Danubius. Communicatio, Vol 11, No 1 (2017)

Digital Games as a Corner Stone of the Networked Social Space and Community: Re-Appraisal of the Transformation of Social Spaces

Serhat Ahmet Kaymas1

Abstract: This study is concerned with the methodological problems of digital games studies; especially studies on gaming experiences in the social media ecology. In this sense, the article is seeking a proper answer to this question: In the 21st century and especially in the conditions of new media ecology, social media researchers, who deal with social networking sites and gaming experiences, how tackle with the media ethnography studies on the digital games. Although, social networking sites have rapidly expanded and diffused into the daily life practices in the modern societies and as a result of this academic inquires are gradually increase on digital games and gaming practices, a few studies directly addressed the interaction between online social network sites and the user’s personal experiences. Thus, this study is aiming to open a discussion on this axis of the SNSs and proposed a new methodology for the investigation on the SNSs and users interaction. Having discussed the relationship between users and social media nexus, the writer of this article is seeking an answer to this question: With regard to the technological changes and gamers “migration” from real spaces into the new media ecology, how they implemented of the reconstructing of users ethnography in the new media world? In accordance with the gaming practices in the social networking sites (SNSs), the question has become increasingly urgent and required meaningful answers from digital games researchers. In this sense, the question, which is seeking an answer in this study, paves the way for inquires the researchers’ interest in the complex changes in social forms and practices they provoked. Prior to this study, there are already a few of the researchers are addressed new ethnography and user’s personal experiences. Therefore the study has argued that new media studies are required a new methodology especially reappraisal (in this sense, rethinking) of the new media ethnography. The study is carried on observation without participation techniques. Apart from the observation techniques, the study have a theoretical debates and inquiry on the social networking sites and gaming practices and after having observation and debates this research have determined while the social gamers needing a different set of motivations to these practices, social interaction and the gaming practices are indispensable part of the using social network sites and these using motivations.

Keywords: Multi-Sided Ethnography; New Media; Actor-Network Theory; Online Games; Social Media

1. Introduction

In parallel to the vast and rapidly growing of communication possibilities and especially expanded usage practices of the internet, the research on the usages of the internet based medium are also significantly expanded. As Junghee Lee and Hyunjoo Lee (2010, p. 712) mentions; “as a result of the rapid growth of online populations and the development of the internet’s interactive applications, or namely social media platforms, a great amount of attention has been paid to the question of how the internet will transform and reshape a variety of social connectedness”. As a consequences of this transformation and reshaped a variety of social connectedness researcher are seeking a new way, to say that a new methods which is produced a complicated answer for the analysis of ongoing social connectedness. In other words, as the new information and communication technologies gained a privileged positions in the modern societies, an in this respect gained a transformative power on the daily lives practices, the researcher’s interest into the new media and computer mediated communication is not a surprise.

Robert E. Wilson, Samuel D. Gosling and Lindsay T. Graham (2012, p. 203) have pointed out; “with over 800 million active users, Facebook is changing the way hundreds of millions of people relate to one another and share information. A rapidly growing body of research has accompanied the meteoric rise of Facebook as social scientists assess the impact of Facebook on social life”. Hence, with the companion of the rapidly growing body and expansion into the daily lives of the users, Facebook raised meaningful questions to the social scientist. For instance in his mostly reading book, David Kirkpatrick (2010, p. 276) questioned an important question for the Facebook’s global familiarity and its communication tools: How did Facebook as get as big as and so fast? This question has become an increasingly urgent with the proliferation of other online social network sites and also Facebook and the complex changes in social forms and practices they provoke. As David Kirkpatrick (2010, p. 276) explains;

Facebook also has a fundamental characteristic that has proven key to its appeal in country after country-you only see friends there. It is Facebook’s identity-based nature that differentiated it from the beginning from most other social networks and enabled it to become a unique global phenomenon. Around the world this is the least American feeling-of American services. Italy’s Facebook-using hordes, for example, could grow the many millions without often seeing anyone who wasn’t Italian. The values, interest, tone and behaviour that users in Turkey or Chile or the Philippines experience inside Facebook are the same ones they are familiar with every day in the offline world. And critically, the language people speak on Facebook is increasingly the one they speak offline as well. The translation tool Facebook made available after year 2008 was among the company’s greatest product innovations and hade huge impact on its global growth. By early 2010; Facebook operated in seventy-five languages, representing 98 percent of the world population”.

As of the first quarter of 2016, the number of the Facebook user, or to say that honestly the “United Nations of Facebook (ithalics are added by this study writer)” have reached 1.49 billion user and according to these rate, Facebook’s monthly active user are biggest and most popular than the any other social network sites (for instance Whatsapp’s active user is 500 million, Twitter’s active user 284 million and Instagram’s monthly active user rate is 200 million. Table 1 is shown that Facebook’s user statistic and usage patterns.

While Facebook have been steadily expanded the user, or to say that “United Facebook Family”, all over the world, as Cheng-Yu Lai and Heng-Li Yang (2014, p.1) have mentioned that; “despite explosive growth in the number of Facebook users, little research has investigated the use of different Facebook features”. Apart from the little interest of the researchers on the Facebook features, the writer of this article has argued that the especially social networking sites and especially social games are being required a new methods for the analysis of the interaction between social networks and the user experiences and in order to a addressed social networking games as a main cornerstone of the public sphere. Therefore this article has aimed to open a new methodological inquiry as a parallel of the research questions which are presented abstract.

2. Method and Case of this Study: a Reappraisal the Relationships is between New Media and Media Ethnography

New media and information technologies inevitably call for researchers as an analysis of the ongoing transition and transformation process of the emerged with the social media usage practices. Especially, when the researchers considers and rethinking of the interaction of online game and gamers nexus apart from well-established methods such as ethnography of the new media ecology newly comers of the methods such as Q Methodology (Doh and Whang, 2014, p. 32), Digital Ritual Analysis (Borroughs, 2014, p. 151), Usage and Preferences of the Gamers (Phan and Chaparro, 2013, p. 1460) are welcomed. But for the purposes of this study, the researcher has adopted new media ethnography or to say that new media ethnography at least two important aspects of this method.

As Christine Hine (2015, p. 25) has pointed out that; “Ethnography is thus very much an adaptive method, in that it begins from the premise that it will not be immediately apparent what the relevant dimensions of contextualization will be, and so the full research question cannot be anticipated in advance or nor can the appropriate field in which the study this question be fully defined at the outset”. Therefore, the study is carried on by the new media ethnography or to say that ethnography for the internet based research. On the other hand, especially when the social network sites and users interaction is emerged as a research topic, as synchronically researchers faces the important questions on the why and how the study of Facebook? According to Robert E. Wilson, Samuel D. Gosling and Lindsay T. Graham (2012, p. 204), there are three broad reasons why Facebook is of relevance to social scientist. These are (1) the activities performed on Facebook (for instance connecting to others, expressing preferences, providing status updates etc) can leave a wealth of concrete, observable data in their wake. As I discussed above, with this interaction possibilities Facebook’s and in this regard other social networks have got provided many opportunities and also threats for the social scientist. (2) The tremendous popularity of Facebook makes it a topic worthy of study in its own rights. According to Wilson, Gosling and Graham (2012, p. 204); “if social scientists hope to fully understand social life in contemporary context, they must examine OSNs.” However Facebook is well established and by far the most popular of the online social media, making it the logical place to begin investigating the patterns, causes and consequences of the social process associated with the online social media usage. And the third reason which is a more important at least for the aims of this study. According to the researchers (3) the rise of OSNs brings new benefits and dangers to society, which warrants careful consideration. Because the fact that, as online social sites and in this context Facebook becomes increasingly integrated into everyday life, it becomes necessary to monitor and examine the platform’s positive and negative impacts on society (Wilson, Gosling and Graham, 2012, p. 204).

All of these aspects and ubiquitous character of the online social networks are required a new methodology for the inquiries and evaluation of the social networks and its users interaction. But, Although as Allison Cavanagh (2007, p. 27) have noted it; “the earliest attempt to use network’s as a sociological concept stem back to the earliest the 1930s (Scott, 2000, p. 7), but did not win many converts and failed to establish a properly developed methodology”. This problem is discussed three decades after, especially 1960s, by the Manchester researchers. For them; networks were the concrete form of social structure therefore Manchester researchers focused their attention on the roles and forms of connection between people as a way of understanding the structural forms of society. However, the previous studies of social network analysis have a number of difficulties and constrained. As Cavanagh (2007, p. 29) have pointed out; first, this studies act to constrain the behaviour and actions of individuals within them. Second, networks are in principle universal, the commitment to the study of ego-centred networks being a methodological necessity rather than an ontological principle. Third, networks do not affect the identity of the individual components of them; people are linked in formations, but retain an individual purpose and identity. Fourth, networks are formed voluntarily through the interactions of actors, but their patterns are culturally specific and the finally the fifth, networks are not reducible to the intentions of the actors who constitute them. Therefore a network analysis retains a commitment to networks as a method of studying structure, rather than positing, as in the case of other theories, that they are a structure in their own right (Cavanagh, 2007, p. 32). Among the various ethnographic approaches and network theory; Actor- Network Theory (ANT) shares American social network theory’s concern with the social as a series of conduits, bridges and linkages which allow the movement of information, resources and of course ideas around society. According to Farnsworth and Austrin (2010, p. 1121), this method demonstrates a fruitful means of making sense of social world. Farnsworth and Austrin (2010, p. 1121) have pointed out; “this is by following how such worlds are assembled, and then stabilized, through the conjunction of particular actors, objects, technologies and networks”. Because “Actor-Network Theory” is different entirely from the traditional ethnographic methods, its employed discussion and also inquiry is extremely different at least prior studies. As Howard S. Becker and Allain Pessin (2006, p. 280) have pointed out; “with traditional ethnographic method is in emphasizing how the intensive process of assemblage and translation constitutes such sites in the first place. Put another way, our interest is in how fields are constituted that then become the material for fieldwork in traditional ethnographic practice”. As Anne Beaulieu (2004, p. 146) has pointed out, internet required a different approach to epistemology. For Beaulieu (2004, p. 142); “besides the concerns of science and technology studies to investigate new forms and tools for knowledge production, parallel discussion are also pursued in anthropology. For Beaulieu, this could be said to imply a different approach to epistemology. Nevertheless as Graham Harman (2009, p. 12) has emphasised it; “no object is inherently reducible or irreducible to any other”.

Unlike the traditional ethnographic model and studies, Actor-Network Theory is deal with how such worlds are assembled, and then stabilized, through the conjunction of particular actors, objects, technologies and networks where it parts company with traditional ethnographic method is in emphasizing how the intensive process of assemblage and translation constitutes such sites in the first place. Put another way, our interest is in how fields are constituted that then become the material for fieldwork in traditional ethnographic practice (Becker & Pessin, 2006, p. 281). Actor-Network Theory’s problematic is an investigation of the nature of power in society; the way actions, belief and opinions are formed and developed. For ANT a central starting position is a critique of traditional understandings of power within sociology. As Bruno Latour (2005, p. 276) have emphasised it; “society is not what holds us together, it is what is held together”. As Michel Callon (1986, p. 208) has noted it; “actor-network theory has a tendency to speak of the dynamics of network creation, the processes of problematization, interessement, enrolment, mobilization and dissidence as though the network was the creation of a specific actor”. In this respect, Actor-Network theory has a number of differentiates from other forms of social networks are that they are exclusive rather than universal. Actor-Network Theory’s fundamental characteristic features are listed below:

a) Actor Network Theory has had different objects, especially traditional ethnographic approaches: For ANT, the social is nothing other than patterned networks of heterogeneous materials. As John Law (2006, p. 4) has pointed out; “for ANT, objects participate in social relations, helping to structure and especially defined them”.

b) As Allison Cavanagh (2007, p. 34) has evaluated, “ANT networks are not merely linking up of stable parts but involve a transformation of these parts”. In this context, for ANT studies, when group of actors, things and procedures are linked up into a network they become simplified into the network itself and ANT refers to as punctualizing. According to John Law (1992, p. 5), “when a network pattern is naturalized or punctualized it disappears from view as a network and reappears as a unity, as an actor in its own right”. Michel Callon (1986, p. 208) describes it in these terms; “each entity enlisted by the problemazition can submit to being integrated into the initial plan, or inversely, refuse the transaction by defining its identity, its goals, projects, orientations, motivations or interests in another manner. Interessement is the group of actions by which an entity attempts to impose and stabilize the identity of the other actors”.

c) Actor Network Theory has a tendency to speak of the dynamics of network creation, the processes of problematization, interessement, enrolment, mobilization and dissidence as though the network was the creation of a specific actor. In the process of forming a network, the identity of the elements from which the network is comprised is subservient to the problematization, the overriding definition of the situation. In this context, when a network is formed its elements are not stable notes and dynamics links, as in social network theory, but are dynamically defined by network (Cavanagh, 2007, p. 34). As Eric Monteiro (2004, p. 132) have stated that the tendencies in ANT studies to over emphasize relatively goal-directed actions which whilst not intrinsic to ANT, are all too often displayed in practices in ANT studies. The most of the researchers, among them noticeable Latour; has evaluated that this aspect of ANT studies also recognized the “managerial”, “engineering”, “Machiaevallian” and “demiurgic” character of ANT.

d) The final feature of ANT networks, which differentiates them from other forms of social networks, is that they are exclusive rather than universal. As John Farnsworth and Terry Austrin (2010, p. 1121) have pointed out, when traditional ethnographic methods is deal with social networks as an intensive process of assemblage and translation constitutes such sites in the first place. In other words, Actor Network Theory is deal with the establishment of the field rather than the traditional ethnographic practices concern on the constitution of material in the field (Becker and Pessin, 2006, p. 281). This could be said to imply a different approach to epistemology (Beaulieu, 2004, p.140). However, she does not claim a special epistemic position except to note that our approach to method echoes that set out by Latour and his claim of irreduction. Here, he argues ‘No object is inherently reducible or irreducible to any other’, so that all actants – whether human or object – ‘are on the same footing’ (Harman, 2009, p. 12). Thus; Actor-Network Theories networks are particular, rather than universal, as Allison Cavanagh (2007, p. 36) has emphasised, operating through exclusion as in the case of US network studies. According to Cavanagh;

Similarly, ANT network share their goal- orientated nature with US network studies. Actor-Network theory networks, however, unlike either British or American social networks, are composed not only of people and personal connections but of texts, objects do not possess fixed properties, and mutational –objects are transformed rather than linked” (Cavanagh, 2007, p. 37).

Although games in which played social network sites continuously and shared by users enthusiastically, sociological approaches are fond of game metaphors (DiCicco-Bloom & Gibson, 2010, p. 247), and ongoing discussions have an attempt understand of the relationship between users and new media interaction as Anne Beaulieu (2004, p. 142) have pointed out the guiding question is never answered. For Beaulieu the guiding question will therefore be “how is ethnography being challenged and reinvented in its encounter with these new objects and with the internet in particular”. This article has an attempt to illustrate this “guiding question” via the case of “okey game” in which is played social media platforms like Facebook. David Kirkpatrick has pointed out (2010:230) games are the most successful type of application on Facebook, drawing in phenomenal numbers of players. It makes sense, since gaming is a fundamentally social activity. As indicated in the recent report, Facebook enables users to play any game with any of his/her friends on the service. As of February 2010 there were twelve games on Facebook with more than 20 million players.

Besides multinational, open games like “mindjolt games”, Facebook also have local games or special games which related to the countries2 or gamers on which is intensified on certain countries. In the case of Okey in which branch of Rummikub, is the example of users intensified in a specific country games. An Okey games user mainly comes from Turkey and to say that Okey is also a traditional game which played especially pervasively in “kahvehanes”3 in the social environment in and this space provides socialization for customers. In the previous discussion in this study, user’s migration has evaluated. As Robert T. Wood and Robert J. Williams (2011, p. 1144) have pointed that beginning in the early to mid 1990s, as internet access expanded into workplaces and private residences, gamblers were introduced to a new realm of internet based venues, soon appeared in electronic format over the internet and have since been easily accessible to any person with an internet connection”. In this respect; internet users, especially online gamers, in Turkey experiences a migration from real sphere to new realm of internet based venues.

From a cultural standpoint, “kahvehanes” largely serve as centres of social interaction, the coffeehouse provides social members with a place to congregate, talk, write, read, entertain one another, or pass the time, whether individually or in small groups of two or three people. Traditional kahvehanes serves an informal club for its regular members and opening a public sphere for those members. At some extend, social media usage pattern in Turkey represents a “paradoxical continuities” in this context. As Farnsworth and Austrin (2010, p. 1120) have pointed out, the question of “how to researcher undertake media ethnography in the 21st century” has been gained an important position in the hearth of the new media analysis. Because the media ethnography as mentioned that the “container concept” or as a “omnibus” which is carrying too many meanings, especially consider to the new media’s analysis, but also for an understanding the proliferation of new media technologies and the complex changes in social forms and practices where the internet and related communication environment has been provoked the social relations. As a parallel of internet and its interactive applications expansion into the daily life practices, the new inquires in which the research is dealt with these interaction capabilities and also an analysis of ongoing debates has been intensified. In this respect, the new methodologies which are aim the explored the interactive applications and users relationship has been searched in the social sciences and also communication studies.

According to John Fransworth and Terry Austrin (2010, p. 1120); this inquiries is further complicated by intense debates, both within and across disciplines, about what it is meant by media ethnography and about how best to study these constantly transforming phenomena. This research has aims to taken the question, how to researcher undertake media ethnography in the 21st century, in two related approaches. The first is deal with a new ethnography of new media world. The writer of this article has argued that a new media world has required new ethnographical methods for understanding of the user and online social media sites ongoing interactivities. In this regard, the actor-network theory has provided a systematic approaches and unique way for the analysis of these ongoing interactive relations. As Allison Cavanagh (2007, p. 27) have note it; although the earliest attempts to use networks as a sociological concept stem back to the 1930s, did not win many converts and failed to establish a properly developed methodology. This methodological problem is discussed later studies within anthropologies. Especially Manchester Researchers are discussed this problem with regard the concrete form of social structure. For instance According to Radcliffe-Brown (quated from Cavanagh, 2007, p. 27); “In the study of social structure, the concrete reality with which we are concerned is the set of actually existing relations, at a given moment of time, which link together certain human beings”. In this context, this study is based on actor-network theory (ANT) for that reframed and conceptualized of those problems. The second but inevitably related to the first problem of the study, which is discussed within this study, is to illustrate the new ethnographic approaches in practices by following the explosive growth of the mediated “okey game”4 in which played Turkey’s social media like Facebook. This game is very popular in the Turkey especially among Turkish youth and university students. Hence, there is a growing continuity in this game playing practices. Before the migration into the cyberspace, “okey” was been played in the real areas especially socialization areas such as canteen or coffees. With the online social sites the game was migrated into a cyberspace and new media world. In this regard and especially after the social media usages have begun, in the initial years of the 2000’s, in Turkey two important changes occurred in the ethnographic practices of gamers. A first change is dealt with the transformation of playing space from real environment to the cyber space and in this regard gamers’ migration. These transition have required that the use of a new ethnographic approach. In this context, second change is dealt with gamers’ position in the new media. Robert T. Wood and Robert J. Williams (2011, p. 1124) have emphasised that; “beginning in the early to mid-1990s, as internet access expanded into workplaces and private residences, gamblers were introduced to a new realm of internet-based gambling opportunities. Each of the traditional forms of gambling as understandable as widely available in land-based venues, until soon appeared in electronic format over the internet, and has since been easily accessible to any person with an internet connection. In this regard at least two interrelated phenomenon emerged and to say that they have gained a transformative positions on the user or player identity.

These are (1) the transformation of the games location range from traditional spaces to the cyber space and in this regard (2) the interactions and relations between the players from real life to the internet based online relations. Therefore, this new online game player’s position led to the new questions on the relationship is between players and new media. On the other hand these ongoing interaction and new interaction possibilities is based on the mediation through new information and communication technologies is being thought by the transformation of the public sphere. As Ercilia Garcia Alvarez, Jordi Lopez Sintas and Alexandra Samper Martinez (2015, p. 10) have mentioned that, “the collaborative relationship with gaming neighbours strengthened social ties in the off-line environment by creating a certain type of social leisure relationship”.

In the context of the “ok” games, these “created certain type of social leisure relationship” is also being thinking on the emerged of the Facebook friendship among the online gamers. This situation, Facebook’s facilitations on the new kind of friendship, is the most inquired area of the Facebook and according to the Wilson, Gosling and Graham (2012, p. 206), the topic consist of the 27 percent of the all of the Facebook studies. Areas of Facebook research and the associated the main research questions with these areas are showed in the Table 2.

Table 2. Areas of Facebook Research Identified in the Literature Review

Areas of Research

No. of Articles

% of total

Associated Research Question.

Descriptive Analysis of Users.



Who is using Facebook and what are users doing while on Facebook?

Motivations for using Facebook



Why the people use Facebook?

Identity presentation



How are people, presenting themselves on Facebook?

Role of Facebook in social interactions.



How is Facebook affecting relationships among group and individuals?

Privacy and information disclosure



Why are people disclosing personal information on Facebook despite potential risk?




Source: (Wilson, Gosling & Graham, 2012, p. 206)

This table is call for rethinking in the real conditions of the Facebook’s active user and as prior studies has mentioned that the Facebook users broad composition have facilitates an important research and field studies. Hence, at least in Europe active users of Facebook is intensified young and educated sections of the society and this composition are showed in the Table 3. In recent years, the rapid and global adoption of social network sites (SNSs) by users and organizations has prompted scholars from a wide range of fields to explore how, why and to what end these sites are used (Vitak & Ellison, 2012, p. 244).

As a largest social network sites Facebook has more than 900 million members who access the site to fulfil a variety of motivations ranging from maintaining existing social relationships to forming new connections. As I noted in elsewhere (Kaymas, 2014, p. 30) with are more than 30 million users and the relatively high penetration rates of Turkey’s new media structure is seen a hopeful areas for the future of online activism such as new media driven journalism and in this regard the changing nature of journalistic outputs. But during this transition which is range from “irl” (in real life) to the “ivl” (in virtual life), perhaps the most dramatically changes in the transformation of the games. As Amanda Lenhart (2009:14) have noted it; “when considering the set of features that define SNSs, it becomes clear that these sites are especially well-suited to enabling socially relevant interactions due to the communication practices they support and the identity information found in SNS profiles”.

3. From Real Space to the Cyberspace: The Long Journey of the Game and Transformation of the Public Sphere

In this new context, users and social network sites interaction provide a useful case for identity formation. In accordance with the latest research on the “rules of Facebook friendship” which is carried out Erin M. Byrant and Jennifer Marmo (2012). According to Byrant and Marmo (2012, p. 1017); web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. Although traditional definitions state that friendship requires unconstrained interaction between partners, interestingly and of course conversely social networks like Facebook, enables various forms of friendship that may or may not meet this requirement. For instance close and causal friends might be labelled as legitimate friends whose relationship transcends various channels of communication, whereas the virtual friendship do not available for this kind of interaction.

As Karen Waltrop (2015, p. 58), whose study based on the re-reading of the Bourdieu’s sociology, have noted it “Bourdieu’s analytical concept of “field” allows an understanding of the social cosmos as composed of a range of autonomous fields”. In accordance with the Pierre Bourdieu’s “field theory” and especially the concept of “habitus”, acquaintances might be a more tenuous and constrained relationship in which partners interact primarily through Facebook unless their offline activities produce a chance encounter. In sum, Facebook users must attempt to negotiate friendships of varying levels of closeness using mediated interaction, and might therefore come to understand a distinct set of Facebook friendship rules. Focused attention is necessary to identify the rules of Facebook friendship because said rules might diverge from existing research in key ways (Byrant and Marmo, 2012, p. 1018).

According to prior studies such as Janne Paavilainen, Juho Hamari, Jaakko Stenros and Jani Kinnunen’s (2013, p. 810) far-fetched research; “social games, like traditional video games and casual games, are played with varied gamer mentalities”. Hence, while in some cases social games fit into the players’ daily lives practices or rhythms such as the appointment mechanics enable the player to schedule his / her playing to fit their weekly programmes (Paavilainen, Hamari, Stenros and Kinnunen; 2013, p. 810), in certain situations social games especially online social games has been a source of unexpected ways and methods for the player’s interaction with other players or platforms. For instance, in this regard, Facebook users might come to hold a different set of behavioral expectations because they simultaneously use the site to manage friendships of a close, casual, and acquaintance nature. The diversity of relationships present on the venue therefore suggests a more complex structure of rules.

Additionally, Facebook interaction is a form of mediated communication that provides users with an array of asynchronous and nearly synchronous communication options. Asynchronous kind of Facebook components (such as wall posts and private messages) allow users to interact free of time constraints, whereas nearly synchronous components (such as chat) provide a way for users to hold a real-time conversation.

The use of synchronous communication may afford close friends a sense of immediacy, yet could also be viewed as inappropriate given the lack of intimacy in acquaintance relationships. In addition to, Facebook users can choose to use components of a public (such as wall posts and photo comments) or private (e.g., private messages and chat) nature. The use of public communication can help solidify a friendship, yet also can raise many problems if a friend communicates in a potentially risky manner with which others would not wish to be associated. As such, Facebook users likely possess unspoken behavioral codes regarding as the appropriate use of synchronous/asynchronous and public/private Facebook communication tools in various types of friendships. In this regard online games practices as a meaningful case for these various types of friendships produced by Facebook communication tools.

In Figure 1 is being showed of Facebook’s active user scales according to the age group. As Janne Paavilainen, Juho Hamari, Jaakko Stenros and Jani Kinnunen (2013, p. 813) have pointed out that; “in regard to the criticism provided by the academics (e.g, Bogost, 2010; Sheffield, 2011), our findings show that social games to provide meaningful and rich experiences for their players, but are not without their limitations”. Apart from the users interaction with each others, the new aspects, interaction, provides a new and also important aspect for social games which are regarded usually as single player games with a social twist.

Hence, among the active users these interaction is perceived that the most important aspects of the Facebook games. In order to assessment and evaluated of this kind of interaction researchers have to use the “digital ritual” analysis like the Benjamin Burroughs (2014, p. 155) research that the “FarmVille” games on Facebook. According to him and his research methodology which is based on participant observation and “this kind of ethnography has been called many names such as online or visual ethnography (Hine, 2000; Miller & Slater, 2000), netnography (Kozinets, 2010), or an entire subdiscipline of media anthropology (Rothenbuhler & Coman, 2005).” (Burroughs, 2014, p. 158). No matter how the methods is being called, the online ethnography has become the most important methods for the rethinking of the player and platform interaction.5

According to the recent study, which is conducted by Miki H. Phan and Barbara S. Chaparro (2013:1460), on the Facebook gamers and interaction practices among these users was determined that the interaction process is being perceived by the most important aspects of the social games. According to the Phan and Chaparro (2013:1461) the main reasons for starting play a game on Facebook is listed in table 3.

Table 3. According to the Phan and Chaparro’s Study the Main Reason’s starting to Play Game on Facebook. (2013:1461)6.





Received an Invitation from Facebook Friends


Saw many Facebook Friends Playing


Read / Heard Good News


Saw Advertisements of the Game


Game Company Recognition


Liked the Graphics


Miscellaneous (e.g, thought a Facebook game looks fun)


When Table 3 is showed that the main reason starting to play game on Facebook, the two factors are the most important among them. These factors are (1) Saw many Facebook Friends Playing which is consist of the 21% for of all the playing factors and (2) Received an Invitation from Facebook Friends which is consist of the 21% for of all the playing factors. Hence interaction of the players and the Facebook as a platform is being read as an evidence of the transformation of the social spaces ranging from real world to the cyber or visual world. On the other hand, these ongoing interactions have paved notably the new way of the rituals. Like any other social games, okey is also based on the interaction and rituals which is the shaped and formatted the power relations during the games.

The dialectics is set up between new media ecosystem and the gamers has been many inquiry at least two overlapping aims. According to a recent research, on the separation and integration aspects of the online games which are hosted by social media, Young Yim Doh and Sang-Ming Leo Whang (2014:32) have argued that; “in fact, the online game world and the real world are quite similar in that they both provide place for people to conduct daily activities”. Therefore, as Doh and Whang (2014:32) have pointed out; “the online game world should not simply be considered as a temporary medium for playing games but as a social place where new type of lives and human relationships are formed” within these areas (italics and bold words is being added by the writer of this study). Hence as regard online games which are hosted by social media as a medium of the public sphere no other games as important as an “okey” game.

This new position of the gamers is especially important for the new media world and interactivity practices in the social media usages. As Maria Bakardijeva (2003:291) have evaluated this new position by follows the William’s “mobile privatization” concept and then pointed out; “immobile socialization”. According to Bakardijeva, this concept has overcome the methodological problems such as online participants, online group phenomena, etc. Bakardijeva have explained that the concept of “immobile socialization” as below;

When I suggest the term ‘immobile socialization’, I intentionally reverse Williams’s (1974) concept of ‘mobile privatization’. Unlike broadcast technology and the automobile that, according to Williams, precipitated a withdrawal of middle-class families from public spaces of association and sociability into private suburban homes, the Internet is being mobilized in a process of collective deliberation and action in which people engage from their private realm” (Bakardijeva, 2003, p. 292).

According to Bakardijeva, “immobile socialization” is a very useful concept especially for understanding the relationship is between users and the new media. However, this new concept is required a new methodology on the analysis for the ethnographic practices of the user / gamer. As Robert T. Wood and Robert J. Williams (2011:1125) have noted, the previous studies which is conducted on the online games have got a methodological limitations and “unfortunately almost all of them have relied on convenience samples”. Researchers in these past studies do indeed acknowledge that the generalibility of their conclusions is severely limited by non-random sampling techniques, but correctly point out that the low prevalence rate of internet gaming makes it prohibitively costly to derive a large random sample of internet gamblers from the general population. Therefore a new ethnographic technique is required especially the analysis of the relationship is between online gamers and the new media.

4. Power, Ideology and Hegemony in the Virtual Sphere: Some Reflections from Turkey’s Online Gamers

When the internet have become an indispensable part of the daily lives the researcher who is attempt to consider new media and players interaction and open the new ways for gaming practices, firstly an answer to this question: How is the public sphere transformed and secondly how the social games affected this transformation through which is based on the social media platforms? Just as social media usage for different aims such as e-mail traffic, blogs, online messages, etc games in social media are also prevails in Turkey. But in Turkey’s online social games like a “kahvehane’s games”, such as okey, black gammon, cards, etc., represent a paradoxical continuity. In this context, main playing games present a migration which is from real life to cyber life styles.

As a candidate country of European Union, Turkey has reached significantly internet users. Internet penetration rates and social media usage patterns in Turkey is showed in Table 2. In this context, Turkey has got a significant penetration rate; almost half of the population and internet usage practices are intensified in the social media practices.

Table 2. Internet Penetration Rates in Turkey (http://www.internetworldstats)



Internet Users


Internet Penetration


Portion of

Social Media Users






In this context, social media games are very pervasive and interaction practices are well established in the case of Turkey’s online games practices. Therefore, online media usage practices and studies of new media ethnography in the Turkey, seen a meaningful attempt for the new media world and its users. If media anthropology is a contact zone then, as Rees (2007, p. 17) suggest that, it is one in which fieldwork, fields, resources and methods intermingle with different disciplinary perspectives about what constitutes ethnographic method. Marcus recognized the tensions this produces as long ago as 1995, noting the emergence of multi-sited ethnography within ‘new spheres of interdisciplinary work, including g media studies, science and technology studies, and cultural studies’ (Marcus, 1995, p. 95). He commented, ‘Precisely because such interdisciplinary arenas do not share a clearly bounded object of study, distinct disciplinary perspectives that participate in them tend to be challenged’ (Marcus, 1995, p. 97). Add to this the new, constantly expanding technological domains investigated by researchers from nanotechnologies to distributed systems, and the field becomes entirely open to debate and rethinking (Rabinow, 2006). It is this ferment which prompts Rees (2007, p. 2) to comment that “one core element of classic anthropological method has hardly ever been substantially problematized and made the object of discussion: the centrality of ethnography as the defining element of anthropological method”.

5. New Media and the Centrality of Ethnography as the Defining Element of Anthropological Methodologies

New media ethnography has required a new perspective on the user practices for this mediated communication. This “requires” is on the one hand, stems from partly the nature of new media and the interaction process and meanings for users. On the other hand, with the advent of new technologies (range from personal computers to the cellular phones and tablets) and increased penetration led to the way of pluralisation and intensification of these practises in the everyday life therefore the analysis of the mediated communication and interaction between user and the new media required new media ethnography. In this regard, this study is dealing with Actor Network Theory because ANT is suggesting that a way of refocusing ethnographic method in a way that enhances its explanatory potential. This is to highlight how multi-sided worlds, such as those commonly found in the okey games playing practices are put together; in other words, following how the assembling of actors, practices and technologies constitutes the very sites studies by other researchers. Nevertheless this article is not ethnography of okey. Article is aims to open a discussion about how to approach ethnography given the relentless march of new “socio-technical” development which is established in the new media environment and users interactivity. Poker and Okey games are typifies these common patterns of interaction across traditional and the new media, as well as mass and personal media forms. Nonetheless, media ethnography has taken up key preoccupations and debates from within existing ethnographic and anthropological literature. As Eric M. Rothenbuhler and Mihai Coman (2005, p. 28) have argued that, media ethnography draws centrally on issues of ritual and myth and the way of these reproduce particular kind of social relations and cultural orders. After Rothenbuhler and Coman’s discussion, this perspective has been reflected in much ongoing work, especially recent anthropology reader and studies on the new media and interactivity (Askew & Wilk, 2002; Ginsburg, 2002). Where the perspective has been contested it has been, for example by arguing for “an anthropological theory of embodied practice in relation to a study of the media” (Pink, 2005, p. 8). Therefore, such embodied practice ranges from conventional media production and consumption to online dating, web forums, cyber activity, e-government, blogging, mobile phone use and tablet usage (Media Antropology Network, 2006). In this context, to say that, this transition is not only shift in the case of classical themes of hierarchy and ritual but it also the shift in this case is from classical themes of hierarchy an ritual to networks such embodied practices ranges from conventional media production and consumption to online dating, web forums, cyber activity, e-government, blogging and mobile phone use, etc. (Urry, 2007, p. 57).

The traditional media ethnography field not only has expanded in order to accommodate new practices and technologies, but also, simultaneously, it has provoked debates over the interdiciplinarity, forms of ordering and contact zones (EASA Media Anthropology Network E-Seminar, 2008; Rothenbuhler, 2008). On the other hand, it has also had to contend with the emergence of other currents of interest which potentially, may reconfigure the field. This investigates both the penetration and appropriation of mobile technologies in South America and draws on a rich mix of social science literatures to frame how these socio- technical exchanges take place. A second example is research that draws on related developments and approaches, such as those in visual anthropology (Grimshaw & Ravetz, 2004; Postma & Crawford, 2006). A third is the rapid proliferation of studies of mobile phone use (e.g. Caronia, 2005; Esbjörnsson et al., 2007; Höflich & Hartmann, 2006; Huhtamo, 2004; Ito et al., 2005; Lai, 2007; Okabe & Ito, 2006). Media ethnography has also taken on from its parent discipline of anthropology the problem of ethnographic study as one produced at particular locations or sites. Wittel (2000, p. 1) summarizes this by quoting Clifford Geertz (1973) on cultural anthropology: “They have a culture out there and your job is to come back and tell us what it is.” He uses this remark to ask how traditional ethnographic notions of the field, fieldwork and participant observation can be expected to make sense in a networked world. He argues that the complexity of real and virtual networked worlds, and the multi-sited research they require, suggests it may be appropriate to dispense with the term ‘ethnography’ altogether in favour of conversation, text or discourse analysis. His point is that the objects of ethnographic enquiry are on the move and its researchers need to be, too (Wittel, 2000, p. 8). Yet, this ongoing discussion on the media ethnography is not covered social network sites, such as Facebook, and new media ethnography on the relationships between users and new media interaction. In the following chapter, I analysed local using practices in the global media mediation within the context of new media ethnography.

6. Local Game Practices in the Global Media Mediation: Some Reflections on the Social Network Sites and User Interaction in Turkey

As Christian Fuchs (2013:97) has pointed out; “so-called social media such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Weibo and Linkedln are an expression of changing regimes of time in capitalist society” and in this sense, online games and gaming practices is being seen an important aspect of this ongoing “changing relationships” at least two interrelated aspects of the relations between capitalism and labour dialectics. Hence, the first aspect is set up in the logic of new media ecology and political economics of the social networking sites. Second aspect is bringing about the rethinking of ongoing interaction which is between players and the new media ecology. In this sense, I revisited the ongoing theoretical divided in cultural studies and political economy approaches. As David Nieborg and Joke Hermes (2008, pp. 134-135) have mentioned that; “Game studies, then, can be a force of innovation in cultural studies itself, simply by its strong cultural sense of political economy. In addition, game studies have investigated texts and textual relations as well as questions of representation in games”. In this sense, in order to examine the main problems with the social networking sites and especially theoretical debate between cultural studies and political economy approaches, the writer of this article offer an inquiry on the gamers’ personal experiences, or to say that players’ perspectives, and global media mediation practices. For instance players’ expectations, their like and dislike categories and the real meaning of the games in players’ daily life practices are very useful starting points on understanding of the local games in the global media mediations.

Prior studies, such as Janne Paavilainen, Juho Hamari, Jaakko Stenros and Jani Kinnunen (2013, p. 809) and Mikki H. Pan and Barbara S. Chaparro’s (2013, p. 1463) studies, are provides a meaningful insights for the players’ perspectives. Facebook gamers’ expectations and likes / dislikes categories about Facebook games are shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Facebook Gamers’ Likes and Dislikes Categories about Facebook Games (Phan and Chaparro, 2013, p. 1463).

Like Category


Dislike Category


Entertainment Value


Time Related


Social Connection


Cost Related






Ease of Play




Special Features






Game Play






Game Type








Ease of Access


Spams & Securities








Game Quality




Game Story and Missions




To some extent, Table 3 is an answer the questions which are mentioned that Nieborg and Hermes (2008, pp. 133-134); “what is game studies anyway?”, “what pleasure and what significance does it have for players?” And most importantly what are the expectations of the gamers’ in global media mediations and global media ecology? In order to attempt an answer to these questions, media researchers’ have to faces methodological problems or to say that needing a new methodological inquires. In discussion and concluding remarks, the study is offer some alternative methodologies to further studies.

7. Discussion, Concluding Remarks and Future Studies

As media industries has been undergone rapid change and particularly social networking sites’ effected the media world or new media ecology, researchers dealing especially with the appreciated methodologies on the social media researching practices and in this sense, social networking sites and user’s interaction practices. In this study, digital gaming practices and users’ interaction is being inquired within the new media ethnography and critical political economy approaches’ theoretical constraints. In this sense; in order to rethinking of digital media playing experiences as a cornerstone of the networked social space and community building practices Facebook’s online games is provides a meaningful case for these inquiries. As Benjamin Burroughs (2014, p. 163) has pointed out; “Facebook might be a social networking site, but it is comprised of multiple layers of social networks, and social gaming is one of those primary networks that imbues the platform with play”. Facebook has got some distinct technological capabilities, such as instant messaging in which interpersonal message is circulated during the game or new form of mass-mediated communication process, and in this context gaming practices are shaped by in the border of these technological capabilities as Burroughs has evaluated. However well-established social interactions between the player and the social networking sites, game studies is not only restricted an analysis of this interaction but also an analysis of consumer ideology, game industry and migration dynamics of the games and gamers from real into the new virtual spheres. In the future studies this aspects will be seen an important research realms for researchers’. Because both of the game experiences and game studies in social networks is required a new and of course appreciated methods for the analysis of these ongoing complexes, the researcher will have required proper analysis methods in the future. Of course, this debate is being started within the social network games studies in recently.

The main objective of this study was to understand the interaction between online game players and online social sites and the writer of this article has argued that new media ecology is required a proper method for this. In this sense, at large extent, the study is seeking a appreciate answer for these questions at above section: How to researcher undertake media ethnography in the 21st century? Although, at first glance this question is easily answerable but in the conditions of games migration from real into the virtual sphere the question is more complex and the answer needs a new ethnographical methods for proper answer. In the context of new media ecology and migration of gaming practices from real into the virtual sphere; traditional games is became of the unique example of the ethnographic inquiry. Not only has migration is call for new ethnographical inquires but also this process has triggered a fundamental changes and stand for new interaction between social sites and players’ nexus. But these aspects of the gaming a practice is being secondary interest in the social media especially games studies. At large extend the writer of this study has argued, new media especially games studies is requiring a new methods for ethnography, such as Actor-Network theory, but the researchers who are deals with games on the social network sites are take into consideration of the social sites. In this context, as Gerard Goggin (20124, p. 1081) has pointed out; “the future for Facebook is uncertain. Like any technology, its career and identity is never finished but is always mutable”. In the context of the 21st century, this ongoing mutable relationship is inevitably called for new media ethnography. Hence, as Nieborg and Hermes (2008, p. 133) have pointed out; “game studies is not cultural studies. It offers itself as a new interdisciplinary field”. Of course this evaluation provides a meaningful for the thinking on the games even set up a well-trodden path on the rethinking of games practices, the writer of this article has argued, game studies and cultural studies have to start a dialogue, at least, methodological inquires. Because this dialogue have paved the way of new debates and of course will have provided a vital energy to each other areas for the rethinking of the interactions. Of course, new media ethnography and user perspectives based on the new ethnographic methodology is provide indispensable part of this dialogue.


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1 Associate Professor, PhD, Hacettepe University Higher Vocational School, Ankara, Turkey, Switchboard, Tel: +90.3123055000 (Sıhhiye), Corresponding author:

AUDC, Vol. 11, no 1/2017, pp. 5-32

2 This games category is partly derived from multinational companies such as Zynga, Playfish, Rock You, Crowd Star, etc or partly created by over 1 million registered developers from 180 countries. In accordance the commercial side of games, Facebook application companies are doing so well that their estimated aggregate revenue for instance in 2009 was roughly the same amount as Facebook’s itself slightly over 500 million dollars.

3 Coffee House: In Turkey, “kahvehanes” is both very pervasive and it have served a different functions such as socialization in the customers sphere time and entertainment whereby the customers comprised of have got different functions like socialization and entertain with special activities such as games.

4 Before social media and digital environment this game is played at the “kahvehane” (like cafes), university’s canteen, homes, etc. Until the social media usages have begun, this game was played real environment.

5 http://www.

6 Phan and Chaparro’s study is carried out by 287 respondents.


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