Oldenburg's (1999) theory of Third Place was used as a lens to determine whether World of Warcraft (WoW), a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG), acts as a virtual third place where users go to engage in informal social interaction. Based on Shields' (2003) seminal study on virtuality, WoW is examined as a liminality that exists between the physical realm and what exists in essence. Virtual communities exist on the threshold between the tangible and the iconic, creating a sort of liminality that allows us to feel them without actually having them present in a purely physical sense. Similarly, Third Places are examined as existing on the threshold between formal public life and private life. The study found that while WoW shares many aspects with Oldenburg's Third Place, the theory as designed by the author does not stretch to accommodate the peculiarities of virtual places and the communities that exist within.
Hulsey, Nathan, "Someone Else is There:Presence,Embodiment and Aspects of Third Place Theory In World of Warcraft" (2009). MG 2009 Proceedings. 12.