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Communication, Coordination, and Camaraderie in World of Warcraft. Mark Chen October 27, 2006. Overview. concept: game mechanics vs. player behavior setting: World of Warcraft analysis: coordination in high-end raids; camaraderie and trust

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Communication coordination and camaraderie in world of warcraft l.jpg

Communication, Coordination, and Camaraderie in World of Warcraft

Mark Chen

October 27, 2006

Overview l.jpg

  • concept: game mechanics vs. player behavior

  • setting:World of Warcraft

  • analysis: coordination in high-end raids; camaraderie and trust

  • implications: mechanics too narrow; coordination based on experience, not end goal

Game mechanics communities l.jpg
Game Mechanics & Communities

  • Assumptions:

    • helping people see how individual affects community and vice versa important

    • responsibility of educators

  • If games can be used as training grounds, how do we get people to value community?

  • Previous research looked at game design and mechanics—change mechanic, change player behavior.(Smith; Zagal, Rick, & Hsi)

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Ethnography of MMORPGs

  • personal experience didn’t match up with models

  • players’ actual choices are complex and socially situated

  • look at social practice(Taylor, Steinkuehler)

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World of Warcraft

  • 7 million subscribers

  • each server has 1000s

  • fantasy world

  • character classes

  • kill monsters, complete quests to gain experience and loot

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Attributes and Items

better loot and experience = more powerful character

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Raid Group

  • 40 players - Molten Core

  • each played different role

  • labor was divided/roles emerged through social practice (Strauss, Stevens)

    • through game defined roles (character class and ability)

    • through merit (case-specific ability or prior knowledge)

    • through existing structures (previous relationships)

Communication l.jpg

text chat channels

standard (raid)

specialized (madrogues)

voice chat


Coordination l.jpg

  • chat interwoven

  • on and off task

  • simultaneously coordinated

  • contextually meaningful

    • 18:11:20.421 : [4. soulburn] Lori: Remember, ss target will change at Domo, but until then, your rezzer is to be ssed at all times.

  • jovial

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An encounter with Molten Giants—why coordination necessary?

  • two Main Tanks

  • healers

  • damage dealers kept track of aggro

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Learning in Molten Core necessary?

  • individual learning

  • group learning through failure:

    • “Now I hope no one's getting frustrated. This is how raids go. It's normal: You fight and fight and fight until your gear is broken, repair and do it again... It can take a while to master these encounters but we're doing good work!”

bodies from previous failures

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Camaraderie necessary?(lack thereof)

  • One night, raid suffered meltdown.

  • doubt, bickering in specialized chat channels

    • Shaun: .... Sven, you are fired.

    • Sven: Hey, most people avoid you, Shaunie! It's the breath. I'm giving an alternative!

    • Shaun: an option that is closer to the caves. you... you are trying to kill us all....

    • Sven: Well? It hasn't happened, now has it?? Stop being so paranoid!

  • camaraderie, level of communication in shared channels low (8 min of silence)

  • no communication = no trust(Iacono & Weisband)

Recovery l.jpg
Recovery necessary?

  • bottom-up reflection on meltdown

    • “I love our raid... We are like brothers and sisters really. Stuff like this is going to happen. However I think we have all been playing long enough to know that we have a pretty great group of people going here and truly we care about and try to do what is best for one another.”

  • reaffirmed goals

  • trust built through valuing shared experience

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Implications necessary?

  • Must look at player social practice

  • Learning happens socially, through lived experience and practice

  • Coordination needed to succeed in group work

  • Trust among team members crucial

  • What builds trust?

    • specialized roles

    • willingness to fail

    • communication

    • relationships/shared experience goal

    • ability to reflect on goal