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15 Minutes of Fame: Joi Ito on player relationships and connecting

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.

Last week, we set the stage with internet superman Joichi Ito in a conversation that meandered through the old days of gaming, from getting his feet wet in MUDs to why he misses 40-man raiding in WoW. This week, we're back to discuss why some people with MBAs make crappy raid leaders, how WoW builds stronger bonds between people who work together, and his plans to bring WoW along for the ride at the MIT Media Lab.

Catch up on last week's part 1 of our interview with Joi first.

15 Minutes of Fame: So what's your own guild focused on now?

Joi Ito: The Horde side had kind of wound down a little bit. It still exists, but it's mostly the Alliance side now. When we were both going strong, it was really fun because we did a lot of joint stuff. [laughs] What we would do is do sort of sister guild PVP -- but it would always get messy because you'd find people from other guilds noticing and then jumping in. Right now, we're definitely not first in the realm, but we just hit level 25. I'm pretty delinquent; I need to level myself up, so as not to embarrass everyone too badly. [laughs]

Every expansion, we go through several iterations of discussing the governance and stuff like that, and a lot of the old-time guild leadership aren't active. I got grandfathered in because it's hard not to have someone in the background, I guess, being the custodian of things to do when no one else can decide.

There was a really interesting paper written by Dmitri Williams, who's an academic, and they did a study on the relationship between guild rules and stability of the guild. It said that in guilds that called themselves "casual" but didn't have any rules, the players tended to have more anxiety than those guilds where there were rules, and that "casual" didn't mean no rules, that rules help people feel comfortable.

Our guild rules are pretty anal, a pretty extensive set of rules, and there's a lot of participation by the guild members in working on these rules. I don't know how formal rules are in other guilds -- I haven't been in too many other guilds -- but discussing the rules and the governance of the guild seems to be a thing that a lot of our guild likes to spend time on. That's primarily where my focus is these days, making sure that the leadership and the guild rules aren't too out of sync with what's going on in the game.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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