Date of Award

December 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Thomas Malaby

Committee Members

Trudy Turner, Paul Brodwin, Stuart Moulthrop, Kristín Loftsdóttir


CCP Games, Corporations, Ethics, Ethnography, EVE Online, Iceland


This ethnography examines the Icelandic video game developer CCP Games, the makers of EVE Online—a massively-multiplayer online game (MMO) that takes place in a star cluster far, far away. Through my exploration of CCP Games as an institution over the span of fourteen months, I highlight how corporations are culturally-situated, enacted entities. Simultaneously, I demonstrate that these culturally-located actors who serve as the architects of our digital infrastructures undertake such efforts from their situated vantage points, thereby embedding particular ethical commitments into the digital landscapes they craft and within which we live our social lives. Created with the intent to be a ‘virtual world more meaningful than real life,’ EVE Online serves as the focal point of my observations of the quotidian practices of CCP Games’s employees as they enact multiple versions of the company and, in doing so, show that it, like any corporation, is not a singular being, but rather a composite of social actors and commitments. Simultaneously, I uncover how the Icelandic context of the company informed the company’s creation and the original development of EVE Online while also showing how the evocation of said Icelandic context impacts the company’s development practices to this day. In doing so, I highlight how this “Icelandic” approach to game development impacts the way in which ethical commitments are made and thereby architected into the game. While my ethnographic focus is that of an Icelandic video game maker, this ethnography demonstrates the impact of cultural situatedness on the architecting of digital infrastructures and the importance of further research at the intersection of technology, ethics, and culture.