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Posts with tag interaction

Facebook vs. World of Warcraft

They both have millions of users across the world. They both have made and broken friendships and relationships, and they both have raised millions if not billions of dollars for their respective companies. And chances are that they're both so popular even your grandma knows about them. Gamasutra has written an interesting post comparing both World of Warcraft and Facebook of all things, and they say that the two are more alike than you might think: both enable you to create an identity, and use that identity to interact with others, and both give you a wide variety of options to do so (in WoW, you can slay dragons together, and on Facebook, you can tag pictures or post on walls). Gamasutra wants to get to the center of where exactly the interactivity lies, and in doing so, figure out what makes Warcraft a game, and Facebook a network.

One major difference is in the interface -- obviously, WoW is wrapped in a fantasy world, so that in between all of the socializing, you're also fighting the Scourge or the Burning Crusade. Facebook has games, but it doesn't have that overarching narrative. WoW also rewards group teamwork and coordination, while Facebook leaves collaboration to its own rewards. And of course the cost is another big difference: WoW is still a subscription game, while Facebook pays in other ways. But the amount of similarities between the two are pretty fascinating. And comparing the two, as Gamasutra does, really makes you think about just what interactivity means, and how two apparently very different types of interactive media aren't that far apart after all.

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Forums

How we learn the jargon

We get a lot of requests here on the site from researchers trying to study you World of Warcraft players. Everybody with a research grant, apparently, wants to study you -- your psychology, your interaction, and the relationship you have with your avatar. We get so many requests, actually, that we usually have to pass -- we're not smart enough to choose which ones are legit and which ones aren't, and if we posted them all, we'd do nothing but post requests for survey answers all day. But I like the way alckly has done her research over on WoW Ladies LJ: she posted a question about WoW jargon, and you can see everyone's answers right away.

We definitely have lots of jargon to go around, from LFG to twinks to PuGs and a lot more. But what's most interesting about all of these answers, to me, is the way it spreads. There's a little bit of Googling and research going on, but really it's a very social thing -- you see "wtb" in the trade channel, and then you ask someone you know what it means (rather than looking it up somewhere else). Thus, definitions of the terms are very organic: "pst" could mean "pssst, here's a whisper" or "please send tell," and yet because they both mean the same thing, both meanings propagate. Likewise, usage tends to be a very social thing -- the person who types "LFG strat need heals" won't type "would u like 2 go to strat?"

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

All the World's a Stage: Player housing, interactivity, and other possible features

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

Playing Warhammer recently has made me think of more features that WoW could add in order to create a better roleplaying experience. Far and away the most important one, to my mind, was the Tome of Knowledge. WoW players really need an in-game resource they can refer to as a standard for information about the Warcraft universe, and having this at hand, roleplayers could do a lot better than they can today.

Knowledge is the most important thing, of course, but there are other features Blizzard could add to the game that would help roleplayers too. I'd like to address a few of these things, and see how much they could really do for us. Player housing is a possible feature that gets talked about a lot, but I have my doubts as to whether or not it would really help roleplayers all that much. Another issue is one that is more important to me personally, and is another feature inspired by my trial with Warhammer Online: looking at interactivity between characters.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

UNLV researcher studies WoW social interaction

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas' student newspaper, the Rebel Yell, has an article up about a student there named Michael McCreery, who's studying how people interact in online games. Unfortunately, most of the article is about the game itself (most of which we already know, obviously), and there's not much about how he actually did the study: apparently he had people play WoW using only the ingame chat, and surveyed them afterwards about it.

How exactly that tells you how to "quantify the social interactions of participants in the game so that future online games can build better environments," we have no idea, but we'll leave that to the experts. Basically, McCreery and his team are examining how people use and interact with others in the game to see how we project ourselves and our characters.

Eventually, he wants to do something "education or therapeutic" with the information, though that too is left pretty open. Virtual environments like World of Warcraft do definitely engender ties between players -- is it possible that those ties can be used in an academic or therapeutical setting? Definitely an interesting line of research.

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

Australian TV covers World of Warcraft


Fortunately, this "mY Generation" show from Australian TV is a little more fair with WoW than the last bit we saw. Though the stereotyping of an entire generation and the video effects grate after a while, it's a generally better look at what it's like to be a World of Warcraft player. It would be nice to see, for example, these kids going out to a movie occasionally or interacting with other people (since most of WoW's population actually does that), and it would have been good to hear from more than just that scientific woman talking about the average playtime -- why all the focus on how many hours /played these people have and not what it feels like to play during those hours? But as far as mainstream reporting goes, it starts out as a pretty good description of what it's like to be a WoW player.

Part 2 and part 3 start to fall down, though, and by the time an intervention rolls around, the show gets a little more biased. I have to say, it would be fun to see a documentary done in this way for someone who watches TV 20 hours a week -- "We wanted to hang out with her, but she said the season finale of Top Model was on. She's a completely different person now!" Somehow, staring at a screen and doing nothing is still socially acceptable, but according to television itself, staring at a screen and interacting with other human beings isn't.

Thanks, Luke S.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Blizzard, News items

Real reactions to virtual environments

The always-interesting Terra Nova has a piece up about Nick Yee's the Proteus Effect, which is based around how we relate to (and interact with) stimuli in virtual worlds, specifically our and others' avatars.

Basically, almost all of the research so far shows that we react to virtual stimuli exactly the same way as if it were real stimuli-- we don't want our characters standing too close to other characters, because it's a social convention in the real world that we all have our own individual space. But we still react positively to attractive avatars, whether we know it or not. No matter how much we're supposed to be roleplaying, or how much we realize consciously that the virtual world is different from the real world, we still react in a real way to virtual stimuli. It's heady stuff, but here's Terra Nova's soundbite, by Dmitri Williams: "You can take the person out of the real, but not the real out of the person."

And Williams closes with an extremely interesting proposition, considering how the interaction works: what if, by making many parts of Outland dark and gloomy, Blizzard has caused us to react realistically and feel depressed? TN's informal survey says that players' favorite zone is Nagrand-- is that because it's sunny and green there? And if so, what does that say about our reaction to the expected upcoming expansion-- should Blizzard reconsider the dark, cold stretches of Northrend for a more tropical locale?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard

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