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Playing on the edge


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Presentation given at IR11.+

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Playing on the edge

  1. 1. Playing on the edge Users, design and communities in MMORPG. Kristine Ask PhD Student Centre for Technology and Society
  2. 2. Appropriating World of Warcraft <ul><li>My approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>” Empirical ontology” or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the game as played </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpretative flexibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No apriory differentiation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>between designer and user </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How do player practices and design relate in WoW? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Domestication <ul><li>Silverstone et al (1992): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The home as the prime context for media </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sørensen & Lie (1996): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Domestication as a framework for appropriation of technology in general. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Practical </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Symbolic </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Sørensen (2006): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Domestication as a collective practice </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Methodology <ul><li>1 year ethnographic study of a player community in World of Warcraft (WoW) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Between 20 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. One design, many ways of playing <ul><li>WoW: A platform </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Levling/Questing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PvP </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Arena </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Twinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AH-ing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Achievements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Roleplay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chatting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Raiding </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Williams et al (1996): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>RP-guild </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social-guild </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PvP-guild </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Raiding-guild </li></ul></ul>
  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. Domesticating raiding <ul><li>The same design challenges were dealt with differently </li></ul><ul><li>All informantas were involved with raiding </li></ul><ul><li>Divided into three groups: </li></ul><ul><li>Casual: Relaxed </li></ul><ul><li>Softcore: Combining </li></ul><ul><li>Hardcore: Competative </li></ul>
  8. 8. Casual <ul><li>Playing was (symbolic) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Killing time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Want to see content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A way to be social </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The guild (practical) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends of friends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relaxed, use of alliances </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong real life ties </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learning (cognitive) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>On own initiative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prefer to ask others </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>” I was in a raid last week, but had to interrupt as one [of the players] had a little one who fell out of bed. It happens”. </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>” I experience a good raidingenvironment in the guild. I like to read up [on strategies] in advance, but at the same time I will ally myself with a ”mentor” if it’s a new instance. Preferably of the same class … Get to hear a bit about what happens there and when it happens. Have also mentored new people myself. I think its really nice and very social!” </li></ul>
  11. 11. Softcore <ul><li>Playing was (Symbolic) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Killing time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A challenge </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The guild (practical) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Had to apply to become member, friends got in easier </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4 nights pr week, 50% attendance requirement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Goal of being in the server’s top 20 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Want to balance RL and gametime </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learning (cognitive): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is required to read strategies before raids </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Forums used as a place to discuss in game events as well as random stuff </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>I have enjoyed being here [in the guild]. Most of the people are laidback, but still take the raiding semi-seriously. People can talk shit and usually don’t take it [bad] if there is some friendly mocking around. … But, because it’s a friendly guild I realize that the raiding isn’t pro and sometimes it also doesn’t feel so nice. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>” If I can’t figure stuff out for myself or if my friends are out of ideas. There’s only one place to look; Well it’s the only forum I found, where most of the ppl know what they are talking about. Sure you can look at other places but there you have to screen out 90% of the posts” </li></ul>
  14. 14. Hardcore <ul><li>Playing was (symbolic): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Challenging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competition </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The guild (practical) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Apply for membership </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires ca 100% attendance, raidtimes decided by progress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Goal: Be in the world elite </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learning (cognitive): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No formal rules from the guild. It’s expected that everyone is at their peak. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Had their own theories about how to do things, and were among those who produced guides etc. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>” Ensidia’s players are pretty much hand picked from the entire playerbase itæs the creme de la creme so to say” </li></ul><ul><li>” If it wasn’t for the fanbase I’m quite sure a lot of us wouldn’t be playing anymore. … it’s a bit scary that whatever I write, I’ll have 100k people reading it” </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>” To be hardcore haha! It’s not what most people think. We play in a hardcore guild, but dont have to play 24/7 to make it work. It’s almost a mathmatical formula behind it all; The better the guild = the faster you can do X,Z etc” </li></ul>
  17. 17. Scripts and user scripts <ul><li>Akrich (1992): </li></ul><ul><li>Script </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A semiotic approach to user/technology relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ideas about the user is materialised in the design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The design contains &quot;ques&quot; for use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problem:Design heavy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Gjøen and Hård (2002): User script </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Users create other scripts by giving new meaning to artefacts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problem: Individual readings have little effect on the &quot;general&quot; script </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Scripts in raiding <ul><li>Size: 10 or 25 players </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Must be a large group </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Continuity: Resets weekly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Must repeat weekly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Time intensive: Even when ”on farm” it takes hours to clear </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Must be dedicated </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Synchronous: Requires everyone to be online at the same time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Must be organized </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Difficulty: The same for everyone </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Must be of equal skill-level </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. User-scripts in raiding <ul><li>Must be a large group </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make alliances (Casual), recruits more (Softcore), small group with high attendance (Hardcore) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Must repeat weekly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When enough people (Casual), keeps plugging on (Softcore), effective to save time (Hardcore) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Must be dedicated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When it suits them (Casual), punished if not attending (Softcore), removed if not attending (Hardcore) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Must be organized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No real structure (Casual), many meetings and much effort (Softcore), strict hierarchy (Hardcore) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Must be of equal skill-level </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dont care (Casual), attempts mentorships and training (Softcore), if you are not the best you are out (Hardcore) </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Cooperation and conflict <ul><li>Overcome shared challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Much shared time </li></ul><ul><li>Both online and offline relations </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult to combine a friendly attitude with competative gaming. Is it a choice between the two? </li></ul><ul><li>Difference of opinion of how to reach their goals </li></ul>
  21. 21. Final words <ul><li>The Casual, Softcore and Hardcore domesticated the game in different ways </li></ul><ul><li>Created user-scripts that were local for that particular group </li></ul><ul><li>Instrumetal play as tool </li></ul>