Maintaining Participant Integrity – Ethics and Fieldwork in Online Video Games

Matilda Ståhl, Fredrik Rusk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Employing ethnographic methods online offers additional understanding of how online contexts are connected to education (Rusk, 2019; Ståhl & Kaihovirta, 2019; Ståhl & Rusk, 2020). As society evolves, new challenges arise for ethnography to claim its position as a methodology for understanding human sociality. For example, the definition of fieldwork might become blurred when the researcher has constant access to the field from their computer, and accessing a participant's perspective is made more complex when there is no, or limited, face-to-face interaction with participants (Beaulieu, 2004; Shumar & Madison, 2013). This chapter discusses some of the challenges experienced during the process of employing ethnographic methods with students playing the online multiplayer video game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO, Valve Corporation & Hidden Path Entertainment, 2012) within an educational context. The challenges included maintaining participant integrity in terms of gaining informed consent from players that became co-observed, defining privacy online during the analysis and in dissemination and portraying participants accurately despite stakeholder interests. These challenges are discussed in relation to maintaining research ethics in situ together with participants and with the research context in mind. The intention is not to portray our approach as best practice, but rather to highlight and discuss the challenges faced.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthics, Ethnography and Education
EditorsLisa Russell, Ruth Barley, Jonathan Tummons
ISBN (Electronic)9781800710085
ISBN (Print)9781800710085, 9781839822476
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2022
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameStudies in Educational Ethnography
ISSN (Print)1529-210X


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