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markchen
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Players have to understand systems of rules and constraints. Very good players learn to push at these boundaries and basically engage in inherently subversive acts--undermining the system--to be successful. Politicians in a democracy should be encouraging this subversion and helping gamers extend this practice into everyday civic life. Politicians not in a democracy should be keeping a careful eye on where this subversion could lead.
Ok, forewarning. I'm just brain-dumping my thoughts on the comments thus far: It seems pretty clear that we have a range of viewpoints on this, which I guess is testament to the fact that player preferences come in all shapes and forms. Wasselin likes the numbers game but doesn't like the repetitive grind involved to get the right numbers for particular activities. Dean drew from Nick and TL, noting that yes, there is a narrowing of play and that dps meters provide both a rating system *and* a surveillance system. Calamus pointed out that numbers lets Blizzard dial down and up in a very fine grain. I think this was tongue-in-cheek, but it's true. Blizz has a pretty strong rep for continuously tweaking and balancing factions/classes/whatever. Mike ties this thread into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. I see his argument as the role-play vs. roll-play argument (story-based vs. combat-based RPGs) and not really sure if the numbers play in WoW really can be described as extrinsic, since it seems such an integral part of the game.. not a tacked on motivator but the actual reason and meat of the activity... Pär suggests an alternative play activity, but I'm not sure replacing one form of play with another is where we want to go... Shouldn't we be desiring a space that not only allows but also fosters and supports multiple ways of play? Or is that too lofty a goal? Should we instead break apart and divide ourselves into different games for different purposes? This goes back to the idea that players can be typed. I just don't want to be typed and shunted into a particular game. Is that too much to ask? So I'm left with playing a variety of games, but that isn't really the ideal solution for me either since there are people and friends I enjoy playing games with. If each person has a differentiated set of games, it seems like it'd be hard to stay within a semi-stable group of players... And J-Han compells me to defend WoW. There's a lot of good in it, I have to admit. Social stuff aside (I've forged some pretty strong friendships through that game, but that could happen with any game.), there have definitely been some really memorable experiences with the game world. It's mostly just the repetition that's a problem, I think. Is what we really need a series of strong group experiences that focus on the experience and don't deliberately prolong play with the numbers-escalation, randomized reward schedule model? In other words, is the ideal actually a series of games that aren't on a subscription model? thoreau questions whether Mike's vision of a game that supports a player's particular motivations for play is in fact a game. So, I tend to describe a (good) game as a system of constraints a player has to recognize and navigate to achieve some sort of goal, usually most compelling if bound in some sort of narrative. To me, the goals in place do not have to come from the game designers, so I believe Mike's vision counts. And thanks Keith for the error correction. :)
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2011 on World of Warcraft is just numbers at Terra Nova
Hey, look! Interesting post today on ihobo about grinding: http://blog.ihobo.com/2011/01/the-grind-mystery-escalating-reward-schedules.html
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2011 on World of Warcraft is just numbers at Terra Nova
Cunzy1_1, don't know of such, but have you tried asking various listserves like the digital games research association's (digra.org) mailing list?
As far as avoiding the slope into postmodern everything counts territory, I'd say the anthro approach is to attempt to understand the meaning and weight of things from the participants' point of view. Therefore, if it counts for the participants, it counts. Yet, I would also argue that sometimes what matters is invisible to the participants but those can only be uncovered through careful observation. The researcher as instrument is both a participant *and* and observer. Or maybe, in other words, yes, in anthro, everything may count but it all doesn't count the same, thus preserving relativity. But I think Richard is right, too. Each discipline uses different scales to weigh what counts, heavily influenced by research question or purpose. And, of course, the writing coming from research needs to be adjusted for different audiences. My dissertation is perhaps looser than a journal article in terms of using popular culture/new media references. I was attempting to navigate waters with the siren call of gamers on one side and the shores of a general audience on the other, all the while heading straight on towards the whirlpool of academics. Given the trickiness of that navigation (Hutchins's naval vessel has nothing on me!), I jettisoned some stuff overboard, using Wikipedia when I thought it was good enough. I'd have used Twitter, too, if I felt it did what I needed it to do.
ugh. Looks like the library site I uploaded it to is down. Temporary fix: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/7657038/chen.diss.leetnoobs.pdf
Great insight re: expertise. As the years have passed, raiding in WoW has become more and more refined... like a narrowing of the kinds of things a player does. Configurations and resource use becomes more standardized or normalized, etc. Is someone considered an expert when he or she successfully performs within the narrowed space? If so, as you say, the cutoff point continually shifts as time goes by. (Though, it's probably better described as a greyscale rather than binary distinction between leet and noob.) An alternative view could be to forgo applying the label "expert" onto specific players and instead just describe the range of activity a given player performs as sometimes expert practice. Does that get us anywhere? And Lisa's term "mastery" might be better anyway. :p
Thanks for the comment! As for the methods, etc., I included an overview in the introduction, but you’re right; it is semi-brief. Partly this is because the dissertation evolved from a collection of papers, each with its own methods section. I’ve aggregated those sections together and trimmed it for readability. One of the eventual desires is to try to get this published somewhere (though I have no idea at this point if that is likely) so the committee and I agreed that I could start to angle it towards that audience already. Maybe this wasn’t kosher?
I found Bourdieu through Thomas Malaby (cf. Making Virtual Worlds) and so attempted to extend some of his (Thomas’s) argument on contingency. It then seemed like good terms to continue using throughout the diss. I was unaware of Thornton and have now placed it in my priority reading list. Thanks!
Points taken and I’m humbled. I tried to limit Wikipedia to things that were not for the research argument but rather as a quick way for readers (basically, originally written for my dissertation committee.. I had no idea you all would actually read it and that I’d be sharing it with Terra Nova!) who have no idea what I’m talking about to read a summary of the terms I use. But you’re right; I definitely could have done a better job of citing authors and may have been a little lazy. Actually, what I probably made a mistake in doing is citing at all instead of just placing hyperlinks or footnotes within the text of the dissertation. I’ll try to be more diligent in the future and more thoughtful about how I’m using references. Some of your points come from your specialized knowledge, and it’s obvious (to me) that I didn’t have access to that knowledge but now I know I can ask you in the future. :)
Yeah.. today’s gearscore and inter-server PUGs are emblematic of certified capital replacing social bonds of trust.
Chapter 3 basically covers the adoption of threat meter and how it changed the dynamics of the raid group. I’m a little dissatisfied with how deeply I was able to go with the analysis, but, essentially, yes... being able to quantify performance and keep tabs on everyone meant that trusting a player to perform his or her role well was down to seeing their performance rather than relying on their reputation or social/cultural capital. I think ultimately, it may not matter where the trust comes from but every member of the group should know up-front how that trust is being generated. So, a hard-core raiding group might implicitly rely on these quantifiable measures, where a social group might not care so much about performance. Each group has an alignment in their motivations and values (ie. how their trust is generated). The group I studied changed the source of this trust over time... unexpectedly for most of the players, I’d say, and that’s part of what lead to its demise.
Well, the group of players that I studied initially started raiding as a way to engage in some sort of activity that prolonged their hanging out with each other. They were a group of friends who leveled up together and decided that they wanted to continue working on content together. Bonding through shared activity, you know? About 4 or 5 months in (*roughly*) some of the players started to put more value into progression and loot. Loot division became more of an issue. The randomness of our loot rules (we used a weighted roll system which tended to rewarded veteran raiders who hadn’t won anything in a while but still had an element of randomness that would sometimes reward a player on their first run) caused some of the players who hadn’t won anything in a while to feel angry, hurt, underappreciated, etc. In other words, I guess what I’m saying is that it isn’t that raiders became non-raiders, but more the motivations for raiding changed for many of the players, resulting in fragmentation among the group, which eventually resulted in its dissolution. I think one of the biggest factors for the fragmentation, however, came from seasonal changes. As summer came, many raiders left due to their changing schedules, and the group had to fill its roster with newbies, which resulted in a step back in terms of progression. Most of the newbies were not just newbies to the group but also newbie raiders.
“Being distracted by the map” is an interesting line of thought! Maps, GPS, sports scores... Could the idea be distilled into Cognitive Load Theory where people get distracted by the tool or user interface (ie. devote too much of their cognitive/memory capacity to the tools) of the activity such that they can’t devote enough of their cognition into the activity itself?
Oh, and there's stuff about how voice can break anonymity for women or transgendered players... so maybe the performance of masculinity in voices do have an effect...
Hi thoreau, That is quite interesting, though I haven't personally looked at the effects of different leaders' voices. My study was on one group of players so I didn't really have the necessary ingredients for a comparison study (though we did have various subsets raid with different leaders for the different runs). The leadership roles and tasks were divided up in a way that was organic out of our existing network of players that we formed while leveling up. In other words, looking at voices with my group might have less power than looking at voice effects with PUGs. Still, I believe there is some research on this topic... Or at least it's not the first time I heard the suggestion. Maybe someone here can chime in? Maybe Moses Wolfenstein looked at voice in his diss (also recently completed!) on leadership in WoW.
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Oct 29, 2010
Thanks so much! Now that I've graduated, I hope to get back to doing art, too. :)
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Oct 28, 2010