My virtual life
or, how people learn to live and to trust
         inside virtual worlds



               Aleks Krotoski
...
This talk
   Richard spoke about an example of trust
    in virtual worlds: RMT
   I’ll be explaining how people live in...
Before I get ahead of myself
   The differences between online and
    offline:
       Anonymity
       Physical appear...
Social groups can look like
           this…
…or they can look like this:




   London Memorial in the virtual world Second Life
   Between 12-1pm on 7 July 2005, o...
Online community I
   In traditional definitions of “community”, there’d
    be no such thing in cyberspace
       Tied ...
Online community II
   Because of their immense size, communities emerge as
    sub-groups (guilds) in the virtual world ...
Trust in virtual communities I:
            we’re all in it together
   Returning to Anonymity
       Perceived similari...
Trust in virtual communities II:
    Actions speak louder than words
   You don’t go into virtual worlds to just
    “be”...
Trust in virtual communities III:
Reputation, reputation, reputation
   It’s the only real
    currency in virtual
    wo...
Trust in virtual worlds III:
            Reputation (continued)
   Trust is based upon
       past experience…
       …...
Trust in virtual communities
            III: Branding




   RMT leads to business models based upon trust in a
    bran...
In Sum
   Virtual communities operate in very similar ways to
    other communities – both on and offline
   They bring ...
Thank you


     Aleks Krotoski
a.krotoski@surrey.ac.uk
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My Virtual Life: or, how people learn to live and to trust inside virtual worlds

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Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (London, 16 May 2006)

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My Virtual Life: or, how people learn to live and to trust inside virtual worlds

  1. 1. My virtual life or, how people learn to live and to trust inside virtual worlds Aleks Krotoski Department of Psychology University of Surrey
  2. 2. This talk  Richard spoke about an example of trust in virtual worlds: RMT  I’ll be explaining how people live in virtual worlds, how they interact in virtual worlds and how they grow to trust one another in virtual worlds
  3. 3. Before I get ahead of myself  The differences between online and offline:  Anonymity  Physical appearance  Physical proximity  Greater transience (more weak ties)  Absence of social cues  So how can we expect community to grow?
  4. 4. Social groups can look like this…
  5. 5. …or they can look like this:  London Memorial in the virtual world Second Life  Between 12-1pm on 7 July 2005, over 150 Second Life residents visited. It was open for 7 days and racked up thousands of visitors  Fewer than 10% claimed any British ties  Maker’s motivations were altruistic and purely community- driven
  6. 6. Online community I  In traditional definitions of “community”, there’d be no such thing in cyberspace  Tied to place, experience and artifacts  To misquote AOL ads, how can you fall for someone you’ve never met?  But we know that’s not true  Chatrooms, forums, MySpace, Craig’s List, London Memorial  These virtual worlds are the places which the online communities are tied to, and they all rely upon trust heuristics
  7. 7. Online community II  Because of their immense size, communities emerge as sub-groups (guilds) in the virtual world population – it’s an explicit part of the design – people must rely upon one another to survive and advance  Form for the same reasons offline communities do:  Make friends, provide motivation, offer support, meet like- minded others  They’ve also got their own unique purposes:  Raid, hunt, gather, ensure safety, divide the bounty of efforts  Whatever role trust plays in offline communities, it plays in online communities because these interactions are human-bound
  8. 8. Trust in virtual communities I: we’re all in it together  Returning to Anonymity  Perceived similarity (levelling the playing field)  No social cues, so lots of uncertainty  Expectations of openness and honesty engenders a culture of mutual sharing  Relevant Social Psychological dimension of trust  Similarity of goals and values  Expectations of future interaction
  9. 9. Trust in virtual communities II: Actions speak louder than words  You don’t go into virtual worlds to just “be”  These are task-oriented environments, with high levels of commitment required  In the goal-oriented spaces, everyone has a role in the social fabric – ownership  Trust develops as a result of historical experience. Which leads to…
  10. 10. Trust in virtual communities III: Reputation, reputation, reputation  It’s the only real currency in virtual worlds  Reputation is the basis for all relationships in virtual worlds  Think eBay  Visual heuristics of trust: players can tell an avatar’s reputation and affiliations just by looking
  11. 11. Trust in virtual worlds III: Reputation (continued)  Trust is based upon  past experience…  …which is either based upon functional goals or pre-existing social relationships…  …or some kind of disinterested third party (e.g., Craig’s List or MySpace)  And speaking of social networking applications, the same principles work in-world too  Finally, you must comply:  A non-official policing force in a space where an official police is absent  The emphasis is on friendship and dedication to the group 
  12. 12. Trust in virtual communities III: Branding  RMT leads to business models based upon trust in a brand  More important in social virtual worlds where RMT is the game
  13. 13. In Sum  Virtual communities operate in very similar ways to other communities – both on and offline  They bring together distributed individuals based on common experience, motivations and reputation  This is particularly true for virtual world participants because of the explicit social design of the software  There is a great potential for crossover between the two spheres, BUT any new implementations should be carefully integrated within the existing social norms of these valuable virtual communities lest trust be undermined.
  14. 14. Thank you Aleks Krotoski a.krotoski@surrey.ac.uk

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