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Posts with tag studies

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?"

Read more →

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

Author of World of Warcraft and Philosophy interviewed

World of Warcraft and Philosophy got released a little while back -- it's a book by Luke Cuddy and John Nordlinger that examines WoW-related topics like roleplaying and the Corrupted Blood plague, and ties them into philsophical ideas and thinking. TechFlash has now posted an interview with Nordlinger, and it's a good read as well. Nordlinger says that one reason they chose to talk about World of Warcraft in this way is that it's so incredibly big -- when you have 12 million (give or take a few at this point) people playing a game with a GDP larger than some smaller nations, you're going to touch on all sorts of interesting ethical, moral, and other philosophical ideas. He says the book has been pretty popular, and a few universities are currently considering teaching courses based on the material, not only because it's interesting, but thinking about the game in this way helps improve abstract thinking in general.

And perhaps most interesting, he says that reading the book could help players better make ethical and moral decisions in the game. Just ninja-ing the mount from an Onyxia raid might not mean much to you, but when you look at the bigger picture, and what those actions mean for ethics in general, Nordlinger says the book might help players "make more aware decisions, if not different decisions." Of course, in practice, trying to explain higher philosophy to ninjas might not have the desired effect, but it does seem true that exploring the higher meanings of this game and the intents of the people playing it might put a little more meaning into the pixels as well.

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

"My Life as a Night Elf Priest"

A University of California Irvine anthropologist named Bonnie Nardi has been studying one of the strangest cultures known to man lately, and she's going to be presenting her findings in a book called "My life as a Night Elf Priest" -- that's right, she's been taking notes on the weird sociological experiment known as Azeroth. It sounds pretty interesting -- she's been examining the way Chinese and American players play the game (and of course the differences between them), and she's also looking into how games like WoW can bring us closer together rather than isolating us socially.

It's funny -- as a genre and a technology, MMO games are actually in the absolute earliest phases of their history. Socoiologists and psychologists have been studying real humans for thousands of years, and yet it's only in the past few decades that they've gotten access to MMO games, like little petri dishes of condensed human behavior. Nardi may be one of the first to try and scientifically examine how players use (and are affected by) this technology, but she'll definitely be far from the last.

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

Faith and World of Warcraft at Colorado University

Buckle your seatbelts on this one -- if you aren't concerned with the bigger picture behind a virtual world like Azeroth and would rather hear about dragons fighting each other or the latest class changes, best look elsewhere on the site. But a student at Colorado University has a theory about World of Warcraft that might sound a little out there: he believes the game is a new religion.

Not necessarily in the sense that you should skip church to raid (though lots of people probably do that anyway). But in the sense that it meets a sociologist's definition of religion: it provides community, ethics, culture, and emotion. And it's hard to argue with that: we're living proof of the community around the game, there's definitely plenty of culture and emotion, and... ethics? CU student Theo Zijderveld is proposing that even if the game itself doesn't promote ethical behavior, the push is there -- we're rewarded for doing the right thing, and often punished for doing wrong. Work with others in a group, get better loot. Camp someone's corpse, and their guildie or alt shows up to camp you.

Intriguing idea, even if it does sound like something cooked up for a college student's thesis (which is in fact what it is). It's certainly not a religion in that there is no higher power involved (unless you believe that Ghostcrawler is in fact a god) -- obviously, we all believe that everything in Azeroth was made by men and women, or at least hard-working Gnomes. But as for what playing World of Warcraft creates in us and makes us feel, those results and ideas are very close in many ways to what organized religion does. Quite a theory.

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

GamerDNA and Massively explore Death Knight demographics


Our friends at Massively and GamerDNA are at it again -- they're digging into their database of players, this time to determine some Death Knight demographics. They want to know what kinds of players are picking up the new Hero class. Unfortunately, their sample size is super small -- only 500, according to Sanya Weathers, which seems way too tiny to determine anything about the Death Knight class at large. But we'll go with it anyway, and see what we can get.

As you can see above, Blood Elves and Humans dominate the race choice in our little group, which seems about right, considering that those are the two most popular races overall. Death Knight players in this study generally tend to have reported themselves as male in real life. And GamerDNA also lays their Death Knights up against the Bartle test and while WoW players trend pretty well to the norm, Death Knights go way more towards the "Killer" and to a lesser extent the "Explorer" end of the scales.

So according to this little survey (and we'll remind you that this is 500 people, so there are plenty of exceptions out there), the average Death Knight is male, chooses whatever race is most familiar to them, and wants to go kill and do damage rather than worry about socializing or achieving. In other words, lots and lots of former Ret Paladins. It'll be interesting to see how this changes over time -- lots of these players are interested in the newest thing, obviously, since they've switched their mains to a new class at the first chance, but as things settle down and more people head back to get new alts, maybe we'll see a different crowd coming out of Acherus.

Filed under: Human, Polls, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blood Elves, Classes, Death Knight

Breakfast Topic: Shame

I am not ashamed to be a World of Warcraft player. I spend on average about two hours a day playing the game. That takes into account the weekends when I overindulge and the weekdays when I may log in for a few arenas, if at all. I have accomplishments in-game that I'm proud of, and I find it really thrilling to share my thoughts and experiences with the readers of WoW Insider. I proudly wear geeky, WoW-oriented shirts, and proclaim myself as a gamer.

Every once in a while I think to myself that I should do something different with my time. But then I remember that it's some good clean (not to mention cheap) fun that I can share with my friends and family. On top of that, I really enjoy my play time. For an extra-added benefit, I can't remember the last time I was actually bored, with the game or anything else.

An interesting news article hit my inbox today. Dr. Jerald Block is a psychiatrist who specializes in treating pathological computer use. His most stunning statement was that many of his clients were more ashamed of their World of Warcraft addictions than obsessions with internet porn. I can't quite wrap my brain around that.

Dr. Block also believes that previous studies of gaming addiction have been focused on the wrong group. He claims that adults, rather than teens, obsess over online gaming. He is probably right on both accounts. This may lead to a paradigm shift in gaming research.

Do you ever find yourself ashamed of playing WoW?

[Via Boston.com]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Breakfast Topics, Features

A Slew of Essays on WoW

Now this is something that could potentially provide endless debate fodder. While stumbling around the web, I came across this page; a collection of term papers written by undergraduates at San Antonio's Trinity University for the class "Games for the Web: Ethnography of Massively Multiplayer On-line Games".

The subjects addressed include "Sexism in WoW", "Real World Transactions of Digital Items from MMOGs", "The Prisoner's Dilemma and Factional Conflict in World of Warcraft", and my personal favorite, the oh-so-socially relevant "Wizards vs. Engineers: The Rumble in the Proverbial Jungle". There are several others covering a wide-range of topics; I haven't had the time to read them all yet, but since I eat this stuff up, I might not get much work done today.

Of course, the real question this begs is: why couldn't assignments have been this cool when I was in school? Do you have any idea how severely the nuns would have beat me if I had asked to write my term paper on a video game?

*sigh*

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

Interview With Author of Synthetic Worlds

We reported a while back on Edward Castranova, one of the prominent economist studying the economy of MMO's.  Businessweek Online has a featured interview with Mr. Castranova (I wonder if he's related to the new drummer for Journey?), in which he discusses his new book on the subject, and the future of online MMO economies.

The economic aspects of MMO's are a fascinating subject for me, as I've said before, and this article is a great read for anyone interested in the subject. You can find the full interview here.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

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