The Play of Internet Communication. (Chapter 5).
The Internet “[magnifies, elaborates and enhances…] play.” The sense of play encouraged by the Internet carries into our reliance on the Internet not only for entertainment, but also for “news, information, instruction and persuasion” (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003)
Our textbook defines Internet play as, "having pleasure, fun, and enjoyment through Internet communication" (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).
The biggest difference between online play vs. real- life play would be the environment in which it takes place. Real-life play wouldn't involve the Internet in any way and could include for example, playing outside for a child, or for an adult, playing cards with friends. Real-life play would occur on a face-to-face basis, or exist in the "real" world and not the "virtual" world. Virtual play could include an online poker game, World of Warcraft or Halo.
(playing with yourself or others but is online)
(playing with others in groups or chats)
MMORPGs, MOOs and MUDs: World of Warcraft, Halo, XBox Live
(Playing with more than 1 person, but is online in a virtual world)
(playing with yourself or others, but is in person)
(playing with others, but are usually right beside them)
(Playing with more than 1 person--Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Clue)Online Play vs. Real Play
Before the advent of the Internet, there was a theory of play that was used to describe the elements that make up play.
1.) Play is for itself. It serves no external goal.
2.) Play exists outside the scope of ordinary life.
3.) Play operates within fixed boundaries of time and space, with its own set of rules.
4.) Play is pliable. Though it can completely absorb the player, "ordinary life" can reassert itself at any time. (Schroeder, 1996)
Through the development of the Internet and the growing technologies that have arisen, online play has become an additional source for play. Aitken & Shedletsky have rewritten the previous theory of play to relate to online play.
1.) Internet play is for the self. It serves internal goals.
2.) Internet play co-exists inside and outside the scope of ordinary life.
3.) Internet play operates without fixed boundares of time and space, although the play may operate within Internet rules.
4.) Internet play is pliable. The Internet can completely absorb the player so as to integrate with "ordinary life," or take on a life of its own (Aitken & Shedletsky, 2003).
One rather large contributor to studying play was G. Stanley Hall. He felt that through children's stages of cognitive and social growth, children learn how to play. Children's sense of play evolves as they grow older. First children are solitary in play, and as they grow into school age, the play becomes parallel, meaning that children are playing beside each other, but not necessarily together. The final stage of play is cooperative play in which children take on roles based on social norms and expectations (a good example is, when “playing house," the boy is the dad and the girl is the mom). (“Play,” 2001).
Hall suggests that through stages of play, we ultimately get to cooperative play as adolescents and stay there through adulthood. In 1973, J.L. Singer suggested that although imaginative play is mostly thought to be used by young children, as adults, we shouldn't dismiss it. He thought that imaginative play was more of a cognitive tool that could enrich the the functioning and quality of life throughout a lifespan. (Piesach & Hardeman, 1985).
This imaginative play can be demonstrated through online play in which, for example, you play in an imaginative virtual world. World of Warcraft is a great example.
As Aitken & Shedletsky (as well as Schroder & Hulzinga) pointed out, play serves no external goal. Regardless of whether the play happens in reality or in a virtual world, the act of play is rewarding in itself, so there doesn't need to be any further reward. Play commands our attention for the length of the activity and the rewards are intrinsic.
There was a study done in September 2004 that examined the relationship between play and online searches. The researchers believed that the intrinsic value of play was escapism and enjoyment (Mathwick & Rigdon, 2004).
"The enjoyment inherent in information search is a well-documented, self-oriented reward that can transform information search into a leisure experience in its own right” (Bloch et al., 1986)
"The escapism dimension of perceived play reflects a state of psychological immersion. When psychologically immersed, a person is fully engaged by the focal activity” (Lombard & Ditton, 1997).
Human-Computer Interaction: “People can interact with computers in ways that are similar to the way two people communicate," (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).Examples: Playing chess or solitaire with your computer, naming your computer.
Some examples of video games are:
•Adventure and Role playing- World of Warcraft
•Strategy-Online chess, Poker
•There is much debate over whether the use of violent video games affects the brain in a negative way. So far, "this body of research is contradictory, inconclusive, and influenced by various theoretical positions" (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).
• One study, performed at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis found that “adolescents who play violent video games show increased activity in areas of the brain linked to emotional arousal and decreased responses in regions that govern self control” (“Violent Video Games…”, 2007).
•Human-Computer action takes place when a person has an interaction with the machine like they would with another person. It is becoming easier to have human-computer interactions because of new technology.
•“Although physical touch is often associated with proximity and intimacy, technologies of touch can reproduce such sensations over a distance, allowing intricate and detailed operations to be conducted through a network such as the Internet. The ‘virtual handshake’ between Boston and London in 2002 is given as an example” (Paterson, 2006.)
•“Active engagement with different characters and the environment in role-playing games encourages exploration and learning, and these interactions give a player the opportunity to discover diverse points of view and develop different ways of solving problems” (Dormann, Biddle, 2006).
•When Playing video games, you can essentially create an identity different from your own and can play at being someone else. (In this context, other users are aware that you're 'pretending.')
Examples: gender switching, talking online anonymously, pretending to be someone else, sexual fantasy/interplay.
A 2007 study examined 80 online daters' use of deception with regard to information about their height, weight and age. Results showed that about 81% of participants lied about at least one of these characteristics, with men lying more about their height, and women lying more about their weight. The researchers found that the deceptions were normally small in magnitude, leading them to conclude that online daters "used deception strategically and carefully," balancing relational goals with what appeared to be a fundamental desire to remain relatively truthful. Participants reported being least accurate about their profile photos, which are easily editable (Toma, et. al., 2007). Another recent study found that “individuals can re-create their identities [using] Internet dating services,” and that “online and offline validation of the identities presented in dating profiles seem to have an impact on individuals’ beliefs about themselves and their behavior in both online and offline environments” (Yurchisin et. al., 2005).
A recent study looked at gender switching behavior among a random sample of online MOO users, defining "MOO" as "a type of [multi-user dimension] that uses object oriented programming" (Roberts & Parks, 1999). Results indicated that only a minority of MOO users switch genders, and they usually do this out of a desire to play the role of someone other than the self. "Gender-switching was also used to engage in sexual talk and fantasies, or to...avoid sexual harassment." Almost all participants who cited avoidance of sexual harassment as their reason for gender-switching were female. Users of MOOs structured as role playing games were found to be about twice as likely to engage in gender-switching as users of purely social MOOs. This seems to suggest that, for users of virtual interactive environments, the playfulness inherent in experimentation with one's identity is reduced when other participants are left unaware that their fellow user isassuming a false persona.
A recent report reveals that some online support-group-frequenters merely pretend to have whatever problem the support group discusses. The frequent use of elaborate lies for the purpose of eliciting “attention or sympathy” is known as Munchausen syndrome, and those who misrepresent themselves in such a way are now infiltrating online support groups, pretending to have anything “from migraines to cystic fibrosis to post-traumatic stress” (Gunn, 2001). Such online deception is often very frustrating and insulting for the online support group participants who are genuinely suffering. The article’s author recommends: “Don't e-mail or post responses to that individual. If this person isn't getting attention anymore, odds are that he or she will go elsewhere. It may seem harsh, but it's the ethical thing to do.”
Internet users typically “approach their communication activity with a sense of playfulness” (Shedletsky & Aitken 2003). This means that when we are using the Internet, we are doing so mostly for the purpose of seeking out a pleasurable experience.
Examples of ways that we interplay with ourselves through the use of the Internet:
Examples of ways that we interplay with others through the use of the Internet:
Single Player Games:
(“Essential Facts…,” 2008)
Search Engines, Google, YouTube:
Personal Research, News, Online Databases:
Online Multiplayer Games:
Social Networking Sites:
Fantasy Sports Leagues:
Cyberfan Pages, Discussion Groups:
Virtual reality: “the creation of an imaginary space in which people can pretend” (Shedletsky, Aitken 2003).
“Since the majority of online RPGs are character-centered, the concept of character attachment – the level of perceived affective and cognitive connection felt by a video game player toward a video game character containing dimensions of parasocial interaction, indentification, suspension of disbelief, control and responsibility – becomes an important aspect in understanding online RPG experiences.” (Lewis, Bowman, Weber 2009)
In 2009, researchers combined the results of 2 studies they'd conducted on avatar users in virtual environments. Their research confirmed what previous studies had found: that in the virtual environment, users' expected behaviors and attitudes are inferred from their avatar's appearance. (Note the similarities between this and 'getting into character' by putting on a costume). Furthermore, they found that both the attractiveness and height of an avatar in an online game were reliable predictors of the player's performance. Most importantly, the researchers concluded that, not only do our virtual bodies change the way we interact with others in avatar-based online communities, but also, "the behavioral repertoire that is shaped by our digital avatars in virtual environments carries over into physical settings" (Yee et. al., 2009). Specifically, "participants given taller avatars negotiated more aggressively in subsequent face-to-face interactions than participants given shorter avatars."
Games for Destruction(Destructive Internet activities carried out by users who experience a sense of play when they take something away from others, such as safety, employment, money, time, status, etc.)
-reference popular culture using films and flash videos accessed online.
-demonstrate points using computer simulations.
-have students use online discussion groups to discuss theoretical principles.
Traditionally, “play” has not been considered a legitimate part of work:
“… if divisions between learning and play were ever clear to students, that clarity no longer exists” (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003).
One recent study looked at how Taiwanese elementary school students viewed the Internet, in terms of a “5 T’s” model of Internet use (Chou, Yu, Chen and Wu, 2009).
The 5T’s model of Internet use
Three major factors are believed to guarantee student success in a web-based course (Blignaut and Nagel, 2009) :
A 2007 study looked at how an instructor’s self-disclosure on Facebook might affect student perceptions and expectations. (Self-disclosure: Any personal information an individual chooses to share. Can include photos, political views, hobbies, personal stories, relationship status, etc.)
“It is one of the great paradoxes of the ‘new economy’:The same technologies that have spurred huge productivity gains in recent years have also made goofing off easier than ever--not to mention a lot morefun. In need of down time or simply bored with their jobs,workers are flocking to web sites designed for diversion, staying there, in some cases, for hours at a time” (Sloan & Yablon, 2000).
1000 employees with Internet access were surveyed…
Computer users experience a mix of “satisfaction, fun, productivity and frustration” (Shedletsky & Aitken, 2003)
For our works cited page, please see the Word doc. attached to the presentation…