Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10524/2118

Leet Noobs: Expertise and Collaboration in a World of Warcraft Player Group as Distributed Sociomaterial Practice

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Item Summary

Title: Leet Noobs: Expertise and Collaboration in a World of Warcraft Player Group as Distributed Sociomaterial Practice
Authors: Chen, Mark
Keywords: World of Warcraft
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
actor-network theory
collaboration
cultural capital
show 1 moresociomaterial practice
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LC Subject Headings: Ethnology
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: University of Washington Graduate School
Citation: University of Washington theses, College of Education, Ph.D., 2010
Related To: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/16275
Abstract: Group expertise in socially-situated joint tasks requires successful negotiation and distribution of roles and responsibilities among group members and their material resources such that the group is a network of actors all in alignment on shared tasks. Using ethnographic methods, the author documents the life and death of a player group in the online game World of Warcraft as it engaged in a 40-person activity called raiding, which consisted of highly coordinated battles against difficult game-controlled monsters. The group took 7 months to master an in-game zone known as Molten Core, defeating all of the monsters within, including the last boss monster, Ragnaros. Part of the group’s success depended on its members’ ability to reconfigure their play spaces, enrolling third-party game modifications and external web resources into their activity. Before joining the group, the players had successfully built-up enough social and cultural capital to be recognized as expert players. Once joining the group, however, they had to relearn and adapt their expertise for this new
joint task that required them to specialize, taking on different roles depending on the types of characters they chose to play, and structure themselves for efficient communication and coordination practices. They also needed to align themselves to new group goals and learn to trust each other. Thus, once-expert players became novices or noobs to relearn expert or leet gameplay, yet they were not true novices because they had a good understanding of the game system and ways to configure their individual play spaces to be successful players. Rather, they were “leet noobs” who needed to reconfigure and adapt their expertise for new norms of sociomaterial practice suited for joint venture. After 10 months, the group experienced lulls in performance due to a change in membership, and the group disbanded as members were unable to renegotiate and agree upon shared goals and responsibilities. Their network had been irreparably disrupted. Understanding how group success depends on alignment of goals and responsibilities helps us plan for future collaborative endeavors across both formal and informal settings.
Pages/Duration: 306 pages
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10524/2118
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0
Appears in Collections:World of Warcraft - Mana'o collection



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