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Sociology of Online Worlds. today. No students’ presentation Examination explanations Lecture BREAK Game sociology exercise LUNCH Technical workshop. exam & dates. "The evaluation is based on two mandatory elements:

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Presentation Transcript
  • No students’ presentation
  • Examination explanations
  • Lecture


  • Game sociology exercise


  • Technical workshop
exam dates
exam & dates

"The evaluation is based on two mandatory elements:

  • 1) a final project in groups (2-5 students) to be handed in by Nov 22nd 2002 at 12:00 pm: (a game prototype and accompanying design document);
  • 2) an later oral group examination prepared in advance with all aids allowed, based on the final project -with an external examiner and using the 13-marking scale. Examination time (including feedback) is 50, 70, 90, and 110 minutes for groups of 2, 3, 4, and 5 students, respectively."
design document
“design document”
  • understood in broad sense: text somehow related to the prototype, in which each section of 10-13 pages has been written by one of you (clearly marked)
  • sections can be totally different, but have to be related to game or take game in examples, for example...
examples of individual texts parts of design document
Examples of individual texts=parts of “design document”
  • Strategy options for interesting flow (design)
  • Creating interesting bots (design)
  • Javascript to solve visual problems (programming)
  • A tipology of social interaction (theory)
  • Considerations upon the role of narrative in rpg structures (theory)
students questions
students’ questions
  • from course project into 16-weeks project
  • criteria to evaluate game demo (playability, meet own criteria, show awareness of issues)
  • oral examination procedure
how collaboration started
how collaboration started...

beyond email

  • texts not only in our machines (servers...)
  • shared textual space across geographical borders
  • authorial collaboration:
    • author-author (noonquilt)
    • author-machine-author (everything)
    • author-machine (eliza)
    • machine-machine? (the Impermanence Agent)
the internet as new cultural space
the Internet as new cultural space

Strange collaborative/connected textual phenomena:

  • Most individual writing on the Internet belongs to the cathegory of fan fiction (i.e. Buffyverse)
  • Cult websites (i.e. AYBNBTU)

community=simple: people doing things together? or needs more structure?

social dimensions
social dimensions
  • Simulated identity and interactions in “inhabited” game worlds (Sherry Turkle)
  • Presentation of self in everyday life, social front that people project (Goffman)
  • Ideology: high/low, subculture, contraculture (Britto)
  • “Social feelings”.Glory and shame. (Baron)
in games
In games:
  • Community (In-game)
  • Metaculture (Out and around-game)
  • membership(accounts, explicit, tied to player not character)
  • relationships(race, class, level)
  • commitment and generalized reciprocity(dedication, respecting rules: hard/soft)
  • shared values and practices(character advancement, similar paths)
  • collective goods(world, equipment)
  • duration(world exists all the time, external fora)



some definitions

  • MUD (Multi-User Dungeon)
  • MOO (MUD Object-Oriented)
  • MUSH (Multi User Shared Hallucination)

They are virtual environments that attempt to emulate three dimensions: height, width, and depth, as well as all five sensory perceptions: sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste, all using plain text (ASCII) characters.

MOOs may be social, educational, or professional environments, usually structured to "look" and "feel" like actual physical locations, complete with all manner of rooms, including libraries, auditoriums, meeting rooms, courtyards, offices, and lounges, classrooms.

an example

Fun to read?

an example

Diego- Elves are wimps! I refuse to risk my life for you.

Aradiel- Oh, bugger off, you do it for the money, not for us.

Andune- Unless he apologizes I am not going anywhere.

Julius- Apologize for what? The elves bit?

Andune- Whatcha think?

Julius sadly shakes his head.

Diego caresses his axe provocatively.

Don Diego- Make me, elf.

Aradiel (OOC)- Oh, come on, sure you are not going to start with race again...

Diego (OOC)- I’m a bloody dwarf, I am roleplaying.

Andune (OOC)- It’s always the same, all because of that game where I killed you.

Julius- Noble friends, let us not linger any longer...

Aradiel leads Andune away from Diego by the arm and looks furiously at both.

Aradiel- Can we move ON, PLEASE? If we don’t find the stupid maiden forget the next level, AND the gold.

writing about communities
writing about communities
  • Virtual communities as “webs for personal relationships in cyberspace” (RHEINGOLD) concentrating on healing and RL communities, liberation
  • Virtual communities as unreal (TURKLE) but all communities are unreal...
  • The logics of cooperation (HEIDE SMITH)

  • “when communities form, a semantic world of sharing knowledge, solving problems, working as a team, playing, building, quarreling, cooperating, planning and forming relationships develop” (AHUNA)
other social aspect metaculture
Other social aspect: metaculture
  • Creation of skins, levels, scripts, tutorials
  • Scores of other people
  • Clans
  • Websites (information, vast nets)
  • Journals
  • Tournaments
  • Market feedback: beta-testing, recruiting, release of code


but why
but why?
  • Game culture provides a degree of “authorship”, creativity and autonomy lacking in many other available forms of recreation.
  • Against merchandising, consumerism
  • Scape alienation
  • Future interactivity not from AI but from cultural interaction



what is everquest
what is EverQuest?
  • MMORPG tradition (Ultima Online, Asheron’s Call...)
  • 3D “versions” of successful MUDs
  • Expansions (first + established world)
  • Inspired on fantasy literature genre + pen and paper roleplaying games
  • The world of Norrath
some data
some data
  • Between 60.000-90.000 online users at peak times
  • 400.000 subscribed players
  • $ 4.000.000 monthly earnings
  • Players: 16% female– 84% male
  • 40% would quit their day real life job to work in EverQuest if paid well enough
  • The average dedicated player spends more than 20 hours/ week playing

(Yee/Castranova, 2001)

studying the social aspect illusion mud norrath scrolls
studying the social aspect(illusion MUD, Norrath scrolls)
  • compare methods (participant observations + interviews / questionnaires)
  • compare game mechanics
  • Social relationships embedded in-game: differences between characters, need to group, clans, learning from other players,
  • Sociability: Playfulness, cooperation, disclosure.
  • Conflict: Player killing, combat.
  • MUD: “The game is about acquisition and conflict, two popular themes in all of Western mass culture. But, for many participants, the social activity is key”.
studying the social aspect ii norrath scrolls
studying the social aspect II(Norrath scrolls)
  • Why do people play EQ? (explore a fantasy world, satisfaction from achieving goals, enjoying social interactions)
  • What do you think about “the Virtual Skinner box” theory (p.70)?
to talk about the social
to talk about the social:
  • Community aspects
  • Metaculture aspects
  • Real-Life aspects (What makes the game appealing to you? Why do you play it?)
  • Can you target your game to a specific RL group? How can this be done beforehand? Can you for example force people to play together with a family member?