Fusing Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in Virtual Worlds Behavioral Research

Symborski Carl Jackson Gary M. Barton Meg Cranmer Geoffrey Raines Byron Quinn Mary Magee Pearce Celia
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

In this study, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Georgia Institute of Technology (GT) developed a quantitative-qualitative mixed methods research technique to investigate the extent to which real world characteristics of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) players can be predicted based on the characteristics and behavior of their avatars. SAIC used three primary assessment instruments to quantitatively rate videos of participant gameplay sessions, while GT produced detailed qualitative descriptions of avatar activities and behavior. Automated textual analysis was then used to identify conceptual themes across all of the descriptions produced by the qualitative team. Using the themes generated by the automated textual analysis in combination with the quantitative variables, we were able to demonstrate the efficacy of the hybrid method for the prediction of real world characteristics from avatar characteristics and behavior.


Main(s) and Alts: Multiple Character Management in World of Warcraft

Hsu Sheng-Yi Huang Yu-Han Sun Chuen-Tsai
2012 DiGRA Nordic '12: Proceedings of 2012 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

Most online games let players create multiple characters, and during avatar creation and gameplay, the relationships between players and their game playing goals are revealed. As multiple characters are developed, player behaviors become more complex. Yet a major characteristic of avatars is that they cannot act at the same time—since gameplay is usually continuous and players alternate between or among avatars, time patterns tend to emerge. For this project we employed a user interface to collect real and continuous data on World of Warcraft players, and developed an algorithm for grouping avatars owned by specific players into sets. We then attempted to identify goals for individual characters, types of set management, and relationships within avatar sets.


Who owns my avatar? – Rights in virtual property

Eriksson Anders Grill Kalle
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

This paper presents a framework for discussing issues of ownership in connection to virtual worlds. We explore how divergent interests in virtual property can be mediated by applying a constructivist perspective to the concept ownership. The simple solutions offered today entail that a contract between the game producer and the gamer gives the game developer exclusive rights to all virtual property. This appears to be unsatisfactory. A number of legitimate interests on part of both producers and gamers may be readily distinguished. More complex distributions of rights would allow many of these interests to be consistently respected.


A Touch of Medieval: Narrative, Magic and Computer Technology in Massively Multiplayer Computer Role-Playing Games

Stern Eddo
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

The paper provides an in depth examination of the narrative structure of Massively Multiplayer Online Computer Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). The analysis is focused on the narrative complexities created by the relationships between computer technology, the medieval fantasy that is central to the genre, and the emergent nature of the online player society. The paper is divided into four major sections: the first examines the question of neomedievalism (as pronounced in the 1970's by Umberto Eco) and its relationship to technology and magic. The second section recounts the historical development of the MMORPG genre. The third section examines the narrative form unique to fantasy genre computer games that arises when the cogent narratives of the fantasy genre are mixed with the equally fantastic narratives of high tech computer culture. The fourth section examines a specifi c set of game "artifacts" that make the specific narrative diegesis of MMORPGs.


‘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?


Collaboration, Creativity and Learning in a Play Community: A Study of The University of There

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

This paper is the first in a series presenting findings from a yearlong mixed-methods study of the University of There (UOT), a player-run distributed learning community within the online graphical 3D world There.com. UOT is both a large-scale collaborative project and a learning environment within a virtual world originally designed as a social play space. The study employed in-world participant observation, in-world and face-to-face interviews, analysis of player-created virtual artifacts, study of extra-virtual and supplemental media (such as web sites, videos and forums), as well as a survey instrument, to understand the dynamics of this distributed, collaborative learning community. The study centered on the following research questions: - How does distributed play motivate creative collaboration and learning? - How is creative collaboration in game communities sustained over time? What motivates players to maintain engagement in both the long and short term? - How does the game software itself support or hinder collaboration and learning? How do players exploit, subvert or augment play software to support these activities? - What interaction tools and methods do players use to undertake creative collaboration and support learning and teaching? - What can practices of both collaboration and teaching within the play-driven context of the University of There teach us about distributed collaboration and learning in general? Can these principles be translated into other contexts? The study found the following: - Play creates forms of affinity, commitment and attention, three factors which, according to Nardi, enhance collaboration. - Staff and faculty reported that their volunteer contribution to the UOT was a source of happiness. Personal relationships, creative activities, and a love of learning were other motivating factors. - The play context provided staff and instructors with a framework in which to play with teaching, resulting in experimental “folk” methods, many of which reflected well-studied theories of learning in games. - In addition UOT’s being a peer-based constructionist learning community, the study concluded that There.com’s “culture of constructionism” makes it a learning environment by definition, since players must learn in order to create.


Long-term motivations to play MMOGs: A longitudinal study on motivations, experience and behavior

Schultheiss Daniel
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

The upward trend in the sector of the digital games goes on.An evolution takes place, which is capable to go to many directions. On the one hand computer graphics become more realistic, games are more complex and the speed, as well as the distribution, of the internet increases steadily. On the other hand another trend appears: browser-games, also called MMOGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Games). Games, which are text-based or contain only few graphical content and are playable without local installation on the computer. Only an internet connection and a browser is needed to use them. These persistant online-worlds, in this special case a browser-game called "Space Merchant Realms", are the object of investigation in this work. Before the empirical analysis is proceeded, the object of investigation is defined in the sector of computer-games and online-games. Subsequently the identification of usagemotivations, gameplay experience and playing-behavior is, as well as its temporal variation, in focus. In this longitudinal research, the usage-motivations are examined with help of the Uses-and-Gratification-Approach and the gameplay-experience is examined with the flow-theory. In two waves of the questionnaire (Nt0=125; Nt1=135), which were surveyed at an interval of ten weeks, several results could be extracted. Ten game motivation factors (total variance 67,175%) and four game experience factors (total variance 58.5%) appeared by the usage of factor analysis. Based on self-evaluation of players, further statements on playing-behavior could be encountered. Moreover the variations of usage-motivations, gameplayexperience and playing-behavior after ten weeks were determined. Four of the ten motivationfactors arose (one of these significant), while six factors stayed constant. Three of the experience-factors became less important (one of these highly significant) and one remained constant. The time of usage demonstrably decreased within ten weeks. This investigation which claimes to be a kind of pilot study, is the first step into an integrated investigation of browser-games.


WADs, Bots and Mods: Multiplayer FPS Games as Co-creative Media

Morris Sue
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This paper will focus on the inter-relationships between media, technology and culture as demonstrated by the online multiplayer FPS scene, and will make explicit the degree to which game texts and associated technology facilitate culture and the formation of community, and how in turn such social structures inflect and determine the development of computer games, related Internet technologies and subsequent models for software development and distribution. Beyond the idea of “participatory media”, I argue that multiplayer FPS games have become “co-creative media”; neither developers nor players can be solely responsible for production of the final assemblage regarded as “the game”, it requires the input of both.


Towards a Socio-Cultural Cartography of In-Game Protests

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

In-game protests are a dynamic part of a burgeoning global cartography of activism and mass mobilisation unfolding across virtual worlds. Such protests nonetheless deserve to be negotiated on their own specific terms if only because these situational inter-plays of political, social, and gaming practices provide a unique means to gain insight into the socio-cultural contexts and imperatives that variously provoke, animate, and enable these acts. By focusing on two extended case study analyses—(1) U.S. artist Joseph DeLappe’s online war memorial and protest project, dead-in-iraq; and (2) the mass protest triggered by the sighting of a Japanese military flag in the Chinese online game Fantasy Westward Journey—this paper is illustrative of interpretive approaches for tentatively mapping and negotiating the sociocultural constituencies of in-game protests. The chosen case studies exemplify how Web 2.0 participatory culture remains informed at base by an acute sense of locality and placespecificity. Such are the grounded premises and possibilities for developing future and further theorisations on the global cartography of in-game protests.


A public place of their own. A Fieldstudy of a Game Café as a Third Place

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

This article investigates the meaning and function of the game café as a ‘Third place’ for boys and young men who play games in a game café. As there has been relatively little focus on game cafés in Western Europe as compared to studies of game cafés in Asia this paper examines the meaning and function of a game café in Sweden. This is achieved through an ethnographic study of a game café in central Stockholm. The author argues that the game café functions as a public place of their own. This means that for this group the game café is an escape from the moral judgments and parental restrictions and control at home. It also provides young men with a local hang out to maintain, negotiate and establish relationships with friends, peers and like minded through gaming. This place is a rather restricted third place which fosters interaction within a homogenous community of people of the same gender and age group. Therefore the game café shares more similarities with a sport club than a traditional café.