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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.3

Player unknown Battleground(PUBG) as ‘Playground’: A study of multiplayer online gaming space and digital sociality


  • Neelabh GUPTA

Primary authors


  • Ankur SHARMA (Game Design student/ Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics)


PUBG, which stands for, Player Unknown Battleground, an immersive battlefield mobile based multiplayer online game(MOG) made headlines in India when Prime Minister Modi talked about it in a public speech, addressing concerns about its addiction among school children. The paper examines this gaming space as a social space, reshaping sociality and connectivity through digital media. As the game embeds itself into everyday routine of millions across India, providing a space for gaming and socialising, it transforms from a simple ‘game’ to a ‘playground’, elementally imitating the interactional patterns of ‘playing’ together. But unlike tradition ‘play’, the affordance of digital media allows to transcend physicality and weave a geographically broad social network. Along with affirming bonds through convivial gaming engagement, the requirement to be simultaneously online enhances communication through real time voice chat interactions, making gaming a more sensory engagement. More interestingly, the communication modalities make interactions with ‘strangers’, aided with ethical prescriptions within the gameplay, more realistic and helps in forging ‘friendships’. Such possibilities make gaming spaces a possible site for non-geolocalized social engagement to aid world solidarity, peace and harmony. Using an ethnographic methodology, the fieldwork was conducted in online space as a ‘genuine’ participant to contextually situate the in-game sociality. Also, content analysis of the game data on social media platforms was done to supplement observations. Interviews of more than hundred ‘active’ players, belonging to early youth age group (15-25 years), were taken. Further, network of active ‘friends’ network of subjects within the game was mapped.