T. L. Taylor

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T. L. Taylor
T. L. Taylor - Game Developers Conference 2017 - 03.jpg
T.L. Taylor speaking at the 2017 Game Developers Conference
Academic background
Alma materBrandeis University
ThesisLiving Digitally: Embodiment in Virtual Environments (2000)
Academic work
Main interestsSociology, video games

T. L. Taylor (born 1967) is an American sociologist and professor. Taylor specialises in researching the culture of gaming and online communities, in particular, esports, live-streaming, and MMOGs such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft.


She received her Ph.D. (2000) in sociology from Brandeis University. Her dissertation, Living Digitally: Embodiment in Virtual Environments, explored design and embodiment in MUDs and graphical virtual worlds.[1][2]


Taylor was a founding faculty member of the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen where she was a professor from 2003-2012. Before that she was an assistant professor at North Carolina State University. She is currently a Professor in Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[3] She has been both a Visiting and Consulting Researcher with the Social Media group at Microsoft Research New England.[4] She co-founded AnyKey.org with Morgan Romine and currently serves as its Director of Research.[5] AnyKey's aim is to diversity the esport community by promoting inclusivity. Taylor is on the editorial boards of the journals Games & Culture and Social Media and Society.


Taylor has been noted as providing insight into the emerging world of live streaming, the growth of professional esports,[6] and the dynamics of ethnic stereotyping in virtual worlds.[7] Taylor also explores the relationship between the self-expression of players in a virtual world and designers' imperatives,[8] and challenges the perceived dichotomy between online and offline experience.[9]

Her first book, Play Between Worlds (MIT Press, 2006) focused on the massively multiplayer online game EverQuest. It explored the social aspects of play, powergaming, gender, and the creative practices of players (including intellectual property implications).

Taylor's second book, Raising the Stakes (MIT Press, 2012), examined professional computer gaming. She visited the World Cyber Games, as well as a number of other tournaments and did interviews with a variety of participants in professional competitive gaming. The book looks at a number of topics in esports, including their status as sports,[2] rulesets and competitive play, gender, and spectatorship and performance.

Her most recent book is Watch Me Play (Princeton, 2018). Taylor analyzes the rise of game live streaming, focusing particularly on the platform Twitch. Continuing her interests in the sociology of play, governance, and management, she discusses how live streaming has come to transform everyday gaming, as well as amplify the growth of esports. The book explores the affective and precarious labor of these broadcasters, the emphasis on media entertainment within esports, and the transformative work of live streaming.[10] It won the American Sociological Association's Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology section 2019 book award.

In addition to her work on these subjects, she has also spoken and written on doing ethnographic work that spans both online and offline sites. She is the co-author (with Tom Boellstorff, Bonnie Nardi, and Celia Pearce) of Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method (Princeton, 2012) [11], which works as a guide for researches to apply familiar ethnographic research methods towards understanding virtual worlds and participants interactions within them.[12]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Taylor, T.L. (2018). Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Game Live Streaming. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Book home page.
  • Taylor, T.L. (2012). Raising the Stakes: E-sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Taylor, T.L. (2012). Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method (co-authored with Tom Boellstorff, Bonnie Nardi, and Celia Pearce). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Taylor, T.L. (2009). "The Assemblage of Play". Games and Culture.
  • Taylor, T.L. (2006a). Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Taylor, T.L. (2006b). "Does WoW Change Everything?: How a PvP Server, Multinational Playerbase, and Surveillance Mod Scene Caused Me Pause". Games and Culture. doi:10.1177/1555412006292615.
  • Taylor, T.L. (2003). "Intentional Bodies: Virtual Environments and the Designers Who Shape Them". International Journal of Engineering Education.
  • Taylor, T.L. (2002). "Living Digitally: Embodiment in Virtual Worlds". In The Social Life of Avatars: Presence and Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments, R. Schroeder (ed), London: Springer-Verlag.
  • Taylor, T.L. (1999). "Life in virtual worlds: Plural Existence, Multimodalities, and other Online Research Challenges". American Behavioral Scientist.


  1. ^ Taylor, T.L. "Living Digitally: Embodiment in Virtual Worlds". CiteSeerX Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ a b Tucker, Staci. "Books Aren't Dead: Staci Tucker with T.L. Taylor". Books Aren't Dead. Fembot. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  3. ^ "MIT Comparative Media Studies: Faculty". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
  4. ^ "New England Lab Current Members' Bios - Microsoft Research". Microsoft Research. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
  5. ^ AnyKey https://www.anykey.org/en/about. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Review of Raising the Stakes". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  7. ^ Hammer, Rhonda; Kellner, Douglas (2009-04-21). Media/Cultural Studies: Critical Approaches. Peter Lang Publishing. p. 598. ISBN 978-0820495262.
  8. ^ Lister, Martin; Dovey, Jon; Giddings, Seth; Grant, Iain; Kelly, Kieran (2009-01-29). New Media: A Critical Introduction. Routledge. p. 212. ISBN 978-0415431613.
  9. ^ Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Simon; Smith, Jonas Heide; Tosca, Susana Pajares (2008-02-15). Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction. Routledge. p. 168. ISBN 978-0415977203.
  11. ^ Boellstorff, Tom; Nardi, Bonnie; Pearce, Celia; Taylor, T.L. (2012). Ethnography and virtual worlds: A handbook of method. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  12. ^ Laberge, Yves. "Book Review: Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method by Tom Boellstorff, Bonnie Nardi, Celia Pearce and T.L.Taylor". The London School for Economics and Political Science.

External links[edit]