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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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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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