Practices of play The collective re-scription of the online game World of Warcraft Kristine Ask www.kristineask.com
Understanding play <ul><li>Definitions of play:  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Magic circle”: not serious, immersive, seclud...
The magic circle crumbles <ul><li>Learning:  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gee (2007), Steinkuehler (2004) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>...
Methodology <ul><li>1 year ethnographic study of a player community in World of Warcraft (WoW) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Betwe...
The Game in question:  <ul><li>MMO RP G </li></ul>Virtual world Up to 30 000 players Avatars used to interact with the wor...
Raiding <ul><li>Large groups of players fighting challenging monsters </li></ul><ul><li>From emergence to mainstream </li>...
Scripts and user-scripts <ul><li>A semiotic approach to user/technology relationships </li></ul><ul><li>“ A large part of ...
Scripts in raiding I <ul><li>”  You don't have to adventure alone in World of Warcraft. In fact, the game can be more fun ...
Scripts in raiding II <ul><li>Organized: synchronous world, stability in the group </li></ul><ul><li>Time intensive: Even ...
<ul><li>Not a monogamous relationship between player and game </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Addons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Logs...
Material re-scription II <ul><li>Delegation of complexity  </li></ul><ul><li>Increased possibility of surveillance </li></...
Social re-scription I <ul><li>Guilds are structured and formalized playergroups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Application process ...
Social re-scription II <ul><li>Formalized play </li></ul><ul><li>Commitment </li></ul>
Symbolic re-scription  <ul><li>A game about numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Performance oriented  </li></ul><ul><li>Expert orien...
Discussion <ul><li>The most basic aspect of raiding stays the same= large group killing digital monsters </li></ul><ul><li...
Play as productive <ul><li>A minority of the players actually create tools or new types of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>” E...
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Practices of play helsinki 2010

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  • VELKOMMEN: Hey, my name is Kristine Ask and I will be doing a presentation titled ”World of Scriptcraft? Gamers collective remaking of computergames”. Fully aware that its getting late and its been a long day, I have made sure to use many pictures and big fonts in my presentation. I will be looking at the player practices in the game World of Warcraft to see how users negotiate and create code.
  • ” Summing up the formal characteristic of play, we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious’ but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings that tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress the difference from the common world by disguise or other means. ”
  • The rise of digital games – humo ludens, renewed interest: Also new forms of play occuring The trad def, no longer viable Learning: games are design for critical learning, increase in literacy: collective problem solving, fostering scientific habits of mind Expertise: embodied, external, not something you just pick up Cheating: Rules are indeed there, but they are not necessarely the arbiter of what goes on. Cheating – being able to circumvent code is relevant Emergence: new player practices are developing Work: Its dicotomy is quite descriptive in some cases NOTE: STILL ENJOYABLE! Still fun, flow, immersion. But not perhaps with the ideas of play that we have learned from seeing kids play, cause as user studies have shown: Grownups are the ones that play. The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for 12 years. The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 39 years old. Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (34 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent).
  • What type of material I gathered: journal, chatlog, videorecordings, just being at the various sites that were in use: blogs, forums
  • The game I have choosen as part of my study is World of Warcraft. Also called WoW for shot. For those who do not know it: It was released in 2004 by the game company Blizzard it has become the most popular MMORPG, atleast in the western world. To explain the game I am going to explain the genre: The genre is MMORPG or Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game. Breaking it down: 1) Massive Multiplayer Online : It’s a persistant virtual world, as in: a synchronous graphical representation of a place. Wo rld of W arcraft is a tounge-and-cheek version of more classical Tolkiens Lord of the Rings world: swords and magic, dragons and goblins. This game world is then duplicated across several server s, where as much as 30 000 players can be logged in at any time . In total several hundred servers, giving room to the approx 10-12 million players (been a while since player nubmers have been released). So, thats the massive multiplayer. Then there is the Online Roleplaying part. 2) Online Roleplaying: Y ou are represented through an avatar : which can be a dwarf, orc, troll, gnome, el f – going with the fantasy theme. But the avatar is very important as the overarching for the game is to develop this avatar. Both solving quests, but also modify the attributes of the avatar by equipping magical items The last part of MMORPG is the G for Game and its in the gameplay that the avatar is developed. 3) Game: There are many ways to develop the avatar, which means that its better to think of WoW as a gaming platform rather then a single game. The primary game is that of using the avatar to kill virtual monsters. This granst the avatar points and magical items that will enhance it and make it better at (pause) killing monsters. There are other: Killing of other avatars in battlegrounds or arenas Completing of achievements, an achievementsystem that works as meta quests: Like eating 50 types of food, or visit every zone in the game. Ah: Making virtual money Emergent styles of play: Griefing, which is to destroy other peoples play experience. But the primary one is still: killing of monsters and this also can happen in several ways. In my analysis I am going to look at one subset of the killing of monster game:raiding
  • Raiding starts when the character has reached its maximum level, and can only be further enhanced by gaining magical items – which incidentally is kept by these really large and hard-to-beat monsters. So, the idea behind raiding is that you get several players together in order to defeat a really big and tough monster, for a really big and phat reward. So, r aids are defined as groups of players banding together that are large then 5. What size such raidgroups are have varied depending on the content the game has put foward, but for the last few years its been groups of 10 or 25. Raiding as a playing phenomenon - first came about in the MMO Everquest where some players decided that if they just got enough people together in game, perhaps they could kill some of the allmighty dragons that were about. This was not intended from the designers, so it started out as an emergent type of play (Malaby 2009?). In WoW however, it has been been part of the design from day one – and as more and more content is added it has been modelled so that more and more players should have access to this – making it one of the games biggest selling points. While raiding and raiding communities initially was seen as an elite activity, it is now a commonplace activity. In the last 3 years it have gone from a primarily powergamer type of play, to something engaging a large amount of the playerbase. Thought it seems that the instrumental type of play that was promoted by powergamers, have been normative and is defining for all those involved (Taylor 2008)
  • Re-scripting: Players took it alot more seriously then in
  • Practices of play helsinki 2010

    1. 1. Practices of play The collective re-scription of the online game World of Warcraft Kristine Ask www.kristineask.com
    2. 2. Understanding play <ul><li>Definitions of play: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Magic circle”: not serious, immersive, secluded, rulebound and unproductive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commonly understood as </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Opposition to work </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Children’s play </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Can play be productive? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If so, how is it done? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If so, what do players make? </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. The magic circle crumbles <ul><li>Learning: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gee (2007), Steinkuehler (2004) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Expertise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chen (2009), Reeves et al (2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cheating: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consalvo (2007) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Emergence: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Karlsen (2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Work: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yee (2006), Silverman and Simon (2008) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Etc etc… </li></ul>Lesson learned: Must study play empirically
    4. 4. Methodology <ul><li>1 year ethnographic study of a player community in World of Warcraft (WoW) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Between 25 and 50 hours play pr week </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interviews with 19 WoW players at varying levels of progression </li></ul>
    5. 5. The Game in question: <ul><li>MMO RP G </li></ul>Virtual world Up to 30 000 players Avatars used to interact with the world A game platform of many subgames Primary game: Killing monsters
    6. 6. Raiding <ul><li>Large groups of players fighting challenging monsters </li></ul><ul><li>From emergence to mainstream </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Set times </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Team effort </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complicated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Little reward </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>for much input </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organized </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Scripts and user-scripts <ul><li>A semiotic approach to user/technology relationships </li></ul><ul><li>“ A large part of the work of innovators is that of “inscribing ” this vision of a the world in the technical object. ” </li></ul><ul><li>Akrich 1992: 208 </li></ul>
    8. 8. Scripts in raiding I <ul><li>” You don't have to adventure alone in World of Warcraft. In fact, the game can be more fun when you join with other players. Quests that are too difficult alone can be surprisingly easy to accomplish when you group with other players. If you group with other players frequently enough, they might even become regular adventuring companions and friends.” </li></ul><ul><li>From Blizzards official ”Game Guide” </li></ul><ul><li>Design </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty: Cannot be done alone </li></ul><ul><li>Size: 10 or 25 players </li></ul><ul><li>Continuity: Resets weekly </li></ul><ul><li>Community: Anyone can create a guild </li></ul>
    9. 9. Scripts in raiding II <ul><li>Organized: synchronous world, stability in the group </li></ul><ul><li>Time intensive: Even when ”on farm” it takes hours to clear </li></ul><ul><li>Expert play: Complex fights with high requirements to coordination of players </li></ul><ul><li>Re-scripting raiding: material, social and symbolic </li></ul>
    10. 10. <ul><li>Not a monogamous relationship between player and game </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Addons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Logs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Databases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guides </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Forums, blogs etc </li></ul></ul>Material re-scription I
    11. 11. Material re-scription II <ul><li>Delegation of complexity </li></ul><ul><li>Increased possibility of surveillance </li></ul><ul><li>Precise </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing and storing of expertise </li></ul>VS
    12. 12. Social re-scription I <ul><li>Guilds are structured and formalized playergroups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Application process to join </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Member requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeps track of attendance (addons) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeps track of performance (logs) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Divide up goods (DKP) </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Social re-scription II <ul><li>Formalized play </li></ul><ul><li>Commitment </li></ul>
    14. 14. Symbolic re-scription <ul><li>A game about numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Performance oriented </li></ul><ul><li>Expert oriented </li></ul>
    15. 15. Discussion <ul><li>The most basic aspect of raiding stays the same= large group killing digital monsters </li></ul><ul><li>Mastery is not just mastery over digital monsters: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Norms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Playing by numbers </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Play as productive <ul><li>A minority of the players actually create tools or new types of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>” Everyone” uses it </li></ul><ul><li>New players are introduced to a network of technologies, norms and practices </li></ul><ul><li>Re-scription of gaming as ”work” </li></ul>
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