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Posts with tag Society

The social aspect of WoW

The social aspect of WoW
I always remember sitting in Shattrath. Sometimes for hours, scrolling through trade, seeing the same messages over and over again. "LF1M Shadow Labyrinth, CC."

Every so often, the discussion comes back to how grouping tools are ruining World of Warcraft's social aspects. The arguments are usually the same, talking about how before the Dungeon Finder people had to have active guilds or set up groups via trade, how the servers had a sense of community, how you have to get out there and put groups together and make friends in order to play WoW, and how that's lost now. And whenever I see this argument, I remember sitting in Shattath, sometimes for hours, trying to get a group for Shadow Labyrinth.

People never really seem to remember those times when they're talking about this. Now, I've made a lot of friends in WoW over the years. Through server x-fers, through tiers of raiding, through old school days of dungeon running. I talk to a lot of these people to this day, and I've raided actively since the days of Molten Core. And yet, when people bemoan the tools that have been added to this game all I can remember is sitting in Shattrath, doing the "LFG Shadow Labyrinth" shuffle, looking at other people also looking for groups. Watching those groups demand that any new DPS have CC (warriors didn't) and that any new tank be an AoE god (warriors weren't) so they didn't have to use that CC they wanted you to have.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Raiding

15 Minutes of Fame: Jane McGonigal on why gamers will change the world

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.
The average young person today in a country with a strong gamer culture will have spent 10,000 hours playing online games, by the age of 21. For children in the United States 10,080 hours is the exact amount of time you will spend in school from fifth grade to high school graduation if you have perfect attendance. -- Jane McGonigal
Games designer Jane McGonigal wants games to change the world -- and she has good reason to think it's not only possible but in fact quite probable. McGonigal's games harness the power of productivity -- yeah, that same stuff you're pouring all over your push for endgame gear, the energy that's spilling over the sides of your personal quest to score more than 100 companion pets -- to bring gamers together to foster global social change.

Whoa, lofty words ... But listen to McGonigal's 20-minute TED Talk, above, and you'll find yourself nodding along. Harnessing the immensely motivated and collaborative population of gamers makes a lot of sense. McGonigal has a new book, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Makes Us Better and How They Can Change the World, that colors in the entire picture (highly recommended reading -- thought-provoking without being heavy in the least).

WoW Insider colors along with McGonigal this month with an exclusive, two-part interview. This week, we talk about how and why gaming will change the world. (We do recommend that you watch McGonigal's TED Talk above first for maximum context.) Next week, we'll narrow the focus to World of Warcraft and pick McGonigal's brain for practical advice for making playing WoW the positive, life-enhancing activity it has the potential to be.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

How reputation governs the game

Ravius over at Kill Ten Rats ruminates on the importance of reputation in these very social games that we're playing with each other, and it resonated with me in terms of a few different things going on in World of Warcraft right now. We've talked lots before about ninjas and how that back-and-forth works -- in that case, karma is directly driven by what other people think of you, and of course that's seen more weakly in lots of other places around the game, including guild recruitment, your friends list, and just the general server at large.

Ravius talks mostly about the negative reputations we earn, and certainly that's a powerful motivator for a lot of people. But positive reputation is also a strong force in this game -- I'm interested to see how we deal with earning and keeping positive reputation in the new Dungeon Finder and eventually the system. Gone may be the days when you build up a good reputation by saying "remember me if you need a good DPS" at the end of a run. It'll be interesting to see what methods we replace that one with.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Instances, Raiding

Compulsive gaming a social problem, not an addiction

Slowly but surely, people are finally starting to gain an actual understanding of gaming, and it's a nice thing to see. The BBC recently reported on gaming addiction with some insight from Keith Bakker, the head of a clinic in Europe targeted at helping gamers. 90% of gamers who spend long hours gaming, he says, aren't addicts at all and addiction counseling isn't the right treatment. Compulsive gaming is a social problem, not a psychological problem.

This is a sentiment many gamers (the non-compulsive kind, mind you) have held for a really long time. Games aren't the problem for young gamers. Poor parental care is a problem, environment is a problem. Communication is important. Healthy environments are important. Games for teenagers tend to be an escape, a place to go where you don't necessarily need to deal with real problems at that age, like social issues, personal troubles, stress and anxiety.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

The secret society of WoW players

Rufus on WoW LJ had something happen last weekend that I'd be happens to a lot of us players: He was introduced to someone who he had nothing in common with... except that they played World of Warcraft. It happens a few different ways -- sometimes, it's like what happened to Rufus, in that you share a mutual friend who knows you both play WoW. Sometimes, it's just someone (or you) overhearing something about WoW and realizing that you've found a fellow player. And sometimes it's just your guildies -- out of game, you have almost nothing at all in common, but the game has brought you together.

In my experience, it's usually just as awkward as Rufus makes it out to be -- especially when you're brought together by someone else, they have no idea that there are different factions and realms and that there are probably a good nine million, nine hundred and ninety thousand people you haven't ever met in game. There are some things that we have in common, obviously -- everyone has died to the Defias pillagers at some point, and almost everyone knows how tough it was getting past Moroes that first time. Sometimes, people can actually come together on these things -- I had a good old friend whose husband and I bonded a little for no other reason than that we both played Shamans.

But usually, especially if introductions are made by a third party, it's just awkward. Have you been in this situation? Did you come away as awkwardly as Rufus did or did you make a new friend thanks to your time in Azeroth?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Is WoW a game?

This Newsweek article -- yet another mainstream look at this strange concept called World of Warcraft -- unexpectedly asks a very interesting question. Is WoW a game? Sadly, the article devotes most of its time to explaining the concept of WoW to an outside audience, rather than getting stuck into a discussion of virtual worlds, their categorisation, and their future.

It's often been said that WoW can be more like a job than a hobby; the regular hours, the repetitive tasks, the camaraderie, the rewards. The question asked by the Newsweek piece, however, has a different angle from the old "work vs play" debate. Instead, it asks -- is this the future? Are WoW's immersiveness, its ability to sneak into lives, its vast popularity all indicators of what virtual worlds in the future will hold? I think so.

'Serious' virtual worlds could easily take lessons from WoW on how to be fun, but while WoW may be exemplary with regards to current MMO design, it's still very much rooted in the 'entertainment' sphere -- future developments away from gaming and towards everyday pervasive virtual worlds have to cater for the seven million WoW-heads, and will be more easily received as a result.

The most important question of all, though, is: when we live and work in the Matrix, will there still be night elves called Légolass?

[Thanks, Dave]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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