Returning to Azeroth: Nostalgia, Sense of Place, and Social Presence in World of Warcraft Classic

Jessica A. Robinson, Nicholas D. Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


World of Warcraft (WoW) Classic (released August 2019) allows players to return to the original game experience. This study considers how WoW players experience game content through media nostalgia and sense of place and investigates how social presence impacts these components of experience. Survey questions addressed 306 participants’ experiences in WoW, feelings of nostalgia and sense of place in Azeroth, and experiences with social presence in WoW; open-ended questions were asked about their motivations to play WoW. Prior overall WoW experience and higher sense of social presence increase personal nostalgia scores (replicating previous research). Sense of place scores increased with higher sense of social presence but were overall lower for current WoW Classic players. Social presence proved an important component of both personal nostalgia and sense of place. These findings expand and extend researchers’ understanding of the relationships between nostalgia, sense of place, and social presence within this unique site of study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-444
Number of pages24
JournalGames and Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • World of Warcraft
  • World of Warcraft Classic
  • massively multiplayer online role-playing game
  • nostalgia
  • sense of place
  • social presence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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