‘What sort of Fish was it?’ How Players Understand their Narrative in Online Games

MacCallum-Stewart Esther
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Online worlds have become a fundamental element of the virtual landscape. The development of MMORPGs has helped give credence to the idea that online spaces can support valid social communities. Having proved that these communities exist, scholars must now decide whether these communities are different to those in the 'real' world. What makes gaming communities stand out? This paper looks at how players contextualise their behaviour within game narratives. In particular, the ways that players manipulate the divergent narratives of each game, and the paradoxes that these structures create is investigated. MMORPGs are rife with social tension. Players appear to use a series of different social codes when they justify their behaviour, borrowing from different rules sets dictated by circumstances in the game according to their need. To contextualise this, this paper examines how players express and argue their ideas through their understanding of the game world and narrative. Like fan communities , players appropriate the MMORPG text for themselves, reinscribing it according to their own conceptions. However, whereas fans must do this away from their key source, in MMORPGs, players discuss the text as they enact it. Narratives are deliberately dynamic – purporting to give players agency to move at their own pace or to chose the routes and standpoints they take throughout each game. Thus fans actively work upon the text in a much broader context, and their discussions are often visible to large amounts of people within the game. If all players consider themselves as fans, then how does this affect the perception of the text itself?


Playing another Game: Twinking in World of Warcraft

Glas René
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

This paper investigates one the more controversial player practices in MMORPG's, twinking, not in terms of value judgment but as a play from negotiating, working against and even transforming a MMORPG's intended structure and design. Making use of participatory ethnographic observations of one of World of Warcraft's particular forms of twinking, this devious behavior is discussed as being luxury play, dominance play, transformative play and standardized play, each form having its own influence on the way these virtual worlds are experienced by the player community and, notably, twinkers themselves.


Self and selfishness in online social play

Myers David
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

In this essay, I argue that human play is fundamentally selfish. Characteristics of individual and selfish play are observed and described within pve and pvp contexts of the MMORPG City of Heroes/Villains (Cryptic Studios). Analysis of player behaviors demonstrates the degree to which groups within MMORPGs attempt to restrict and transform individual and selfish play. In general, social play within MMORPGs tends to reduce the diversity of individual play; this undermines the ability of oppositional play to explore and value game components and processes. Conclusions recommend conceptualizing online social play as a form of social control.


Project Massive 1.0: Organizational Commitment, Sociability and Extraversion in Massively Multiplayer Online Games

Seay A. Fleming Jerome William J. Lee Kevin Sang Kraut Robert
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMPs) continue to be a popular and lucrative sector of the gaming market. Project Massive was created to survey MMP players about their play experience, social experience, and communication tool usage both inside and outside of their gaming environments. 1852 MMP players have completed the online Project Massive survey, reporting on their play patterns, commitment to their player organizations, and personality traits like sociability and extraversion. The primary focus of Project Massive has been on the player groups that form in MMPs. Most MMPs support and attempt to foster group formation of some kind or another among their players. These formal player groups, often called guilds, can be as persistent as the digital worlds in which they exist. We have found that players who are highly committed to their guilds spend significantly more time in-game than do moderately committed guild members and solo (non-guild) players. Enhancing a player's commitment to their guild can translate into extending their commitment to the game world. In turn, this may result in longer subscriptions and increased revenue for the game's creators. This research is important because there has not been substantial research into the traits and practices of the more successful player organizations that are able to sustain committed bodies of members. Project Massive has investigated how these groups develop, organize, communicate, and operate across a number of independent game worlds. Here we report on our findings and describe our future longitudinal work as we track players and their organizations across the evolving landscape of the MMP product space.


Leadership Style in World of Warcraft Raid Guilds

Prax Patrick
2010 DiGRA Nordic '10: Proceedings of the 2010 International DiGRA Nordic Conference: Experiencing Games: Games, Play, and Players

This study shows how guild leaders in World of Warcraft (WOW) and leaders of real life organizations compare in terms of leadership style. This comparison is used to shed some light on leadership in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). 12 interviews were conducted, six with leaders of successful WOW raiding guilds and six with leaders of various real life organizations. The Leadership Grid was used to analyze and compare the different leadership styles. The leadership style of the guild leaders can be described as “Janus-faced”. It uses both “County-Club Management” putting human needs first and “Authority-Compliance Management” focusing on efficiency and results depending on the situation. To secure the success of the raid a leadership style with focus on results is used during the actual raid. During the every-day life, outside of the actual raid, a leadership style concerned about human needs is chosen to be able to solve social problems and build strong social relationships using only digital media for communication.


Emotional Attachments for Story Construction in Virtual Game Worlds

Eladhari Mirjam Palosaari
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

In the virtual game world prototype World of Minds that uses the Mind Module, a semi-autonomous agent architec- ture, the notion of sentiments, or emotional attachments be- tween objects, is what constitutes the deep structure in the game world. In this paper a play test is presented where sen- timents are instantiated in three different ways; randomly, by choice of the player and through interaction. The test indicates that the sentiments that are instantiated through interaction between entities in the world are those that cre- ate meaning for they players of a quality that would be use- ful for the co-creation of narrative potential in virtual game worlds.


Spontaneous Communities of Learning: Learning Ecosystems in Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming Environments

Galarneau Lisa
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

This paper outlines the theoretical rationale behind a doctoral research project currently in progress. Through a multi-method approach, the project examines spontaneously-emerging communities of learning in and around massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) within the context of social learning theory, social networks, self-organisation, online communities and emergence.


Fictive affinities in Final Fantasy XI: complicit and critical play in fantastic nations

Huber William
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

Like many massively-multiplayer role-playing games, Final Fantasy XI is a persistent world with a heroic fantasy setting. This paper discusses fictive player identities, and describes specific visual and ludological tropes of race and nationality, and the techniques by which the game engineers the complicity of the player in the problematics it represents. Some of these are coherent with themes and structures developed in earlier (single-player) iterations of the Final Fantasy franchise; others are original to the multiplayer title. This treatment of the game-as-text is offered as an exercise in critical close-play, and as an example of a necessarily hybrid approach to the study of game genres.


Law, order and conflicts of interest in massively multiplayer online games

Pargman Daniel Eriksson Andreas
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

In huge online games where great numbers of players can be connected at the same time, social interaction is complex and conflicts become part of everyday life. There is a set of rules and norms in the game for what is allowed and what is prohibited and these are partly set up by the game publisher and partly evolve among the players themselves over time. This paper describes and exemplifies a number of often-contested behaviors around which most in-game conflicts in the massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) Everquest revolve. Using these examples as a starting point, the paper presents a conceptual framework for analyzing conflicts and allegiance in MMOGs.


Narrative Structure in Trans-Reality Role-Playing Games: Integrating Story Construction from Live Action, Table Top and Computer-Based Role-Playing Games

Lindley Craig Eladhari Mirjam
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

Trans-reality role-playing games are conceived of as a form of role-playing game evolving from and integrating established table-top, live-action and computer-based role-playing forms. Each of these established forms has specific strengths and modalities for the ongoing articulation of the history of a game world regarded as an unfolding story. Integrating these forms in a trans-reality role-playing game involves the evolution of their techniques and technologies to allow each to function as a staging approach for game play within a single coherent game world. To achieve this integration, new technologically based design concepts are required to allow players within the different strategies to interact with each other as characters within the same game world.