Context and participation in virtual world Habbo Hotel
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This paper presents the results of a small case study that is part of a major research project on language, identity and social media. In this work we focus our attention on context and participation in Habbo Hotel, a virtual world for socialising aimed at teenagers. Through the analysis of a corpus of text-based interactions we explore some of the contextual features that condition the way participants enact social action through participation in prefabricated role-playing situations that simulate real-life scenarios. The observation and interpretation of the ways the participants actively engage in a variety of playful textual avatar-mediated exchanges lead us to suggest that the forms of participation in Habbo are dependent on the participants’ social agendas that generate different levels of commitment to the communicative situation which in turn can trigger different types of social behaviour, including linguistic behaviour. This, coupled with contextual features like anonymity and spatial distance, we argue, seems give rise to a less constrained relation between language and situation.