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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 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 • implications: mechanics too narrow; coordination based on experience, not end goal
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)
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)
World of Warcraft • 7 million subscribers • each server has 1000s • fantasy world • character classes • kill monsters, complete quests to gain experience and loot
Attributes and Items better loot and experience = more powerful character
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)
text chat channels standard (raid) specialized (madrogues) voice chat Communication
Coordination • 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
An encounter with Molten Giants—why coordination necessary? • two Main Tanks • healers • damage dealers kept track of aggro
Learning in Molten Core • 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
Camaraderie (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 • 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
Implications • 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