World of Warcraft - Mana'o collection

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    Running with Newbies: Understanding Online Communities Through the Eyes of Second-Generation Gamers
    (University of Southern California Graduate School, 2012-05) Kelly, Shawna Kathleen
    The growing popularity of video games is introducing a new generation of video game players to online communities and the communicative behaviors of these second-generation gamers open new ways to understand the social impacts of interactive entertainment. This dissertation examines how second-generation gamers offer insights into dispositions, identity performance, community membership, and video game addiction. Ethnographic research of players entering the online gaming community of World of Warcraft suggests that second-generation gamers are neither “hardcore” nor “casual” players, but have developed a different disposition from those described by previous games researchers. The five key attributes of the second-generation gaming disposition are that they are ease-of-use oriented, embody diversity, thrive on consistency, learn only what is necessary and rely on proven solutions. Second-generation gamers are also more likely to fall outside of the “typical gamer” stereotype in terms of gender, age, and ethnicity. They respond to the dominant gamer culture by making performance decisions for both their personal and social identities. After entering the online community, second-generation gamers must decide how to present themselves to other players and learn their role in the community. For some second-generation players, online interactions with other players and with the gaming community take on a deeply meaningful role in their everyday lives. Lastly, in response to the popular discourse of video game addiction, second-generation players develop play-limiting strategies which suggest that “addiction” is not a useful framework for understanding their motivations for playing video games.
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    Cultural Consonance and Mental Wellness in the World of Warcraft: Online Games as Cognitive Technologies of ‘Absorption-Immersion’
    (Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 2011) Snodgrass, Jeffrey G. ; Lacy, Michael G. ; Dengah, H.J. Francois II ; Fagan, Jesse
    We use survey data—interpreted through ethnographic interviews and our own game-playing experiences—to model the way culture impacts the therapeutic dynamics of play in the popular online game World of Warcraft (WoW). To do so, we utilize cognitive anthropological understandings of ‘cultural consonance’ (Dressler and Bindon 2000)—that is, the extent to which individuals embody or fail to embody socially shared and sanctioned models of success. We find that players who report more individual ‘consonance’ with culturally shared models of ‘real-life’ or offline success are more likely to play in healthier ways as assessed through players’ self-reports of the impact of WoW on their life happiness, stress relief, and patterns of problematic play. We uncover both direct relationships between an individual’s relative degree of cultural consonance and these wellness outcomes and also indirect ones mediated by ‘absorption-immersion’ (defined as the extent that players feel like they are in a virtual world and in some cases actually their character). Overall, we suggest that WoW—and more generally multiplayer online role-playing games (‘MMORPGs’ or ‘MMOs’ for short) of which WoW is one example—can be thought of as cultural-cognitive technologies promoting a partitioned or ‘dissociated’ consciousness (Lynn 2005) in which players can attribute dimensions of self to in-game characters for potential psychological benefit or harm.
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    Enhancing One Life Rather than Living Two: Playing MMOs with Offline Friends
    (Elsevier, 2011) Snodgrass, Jeffrey G. ; Lacy, Michael G. ; Dengah, H.J. Francois II ; Fagan, Jesse
    We use ethnographic, interview, and survey data to examine problematic play within the popular online game, World of Warcraft, or ‘WoW’ for short. Research shows that players drawn to the interpersonal dimensions of online games are more prone to experience negative outcomes associated with their computer use. Our study suggests that it is not only whether online gamers seek meaningful social interactions that determine if WoW play becomes problematic, but exactly how players interact with others in online game-worlds. Specifically, levels of problematic WoW play depend on the extent gamers play with offline or ‘real-life’ friends and relations. Our survey data reveals both a direct relationship between playing WoW with offline friends and problematic online gaming and also an indirect one mediated by ‘immersion’ (defined as the extent that players feel like they are in a virtual world and in some cases actually their character). Interpreting these results through ethnographic and interview data, we suggest that playing WoW with real-life friends allows gamers to transfer in-game accomplishments and experiences into offline social networks. Rather than competing and conflicting with the world outside of the game, WoW played in this way tends to enhance gamers’ offline lives. Further, by keeping gamers in touch with perspectives outside of WoW, playing with real-life friends instills critical distance and greater awareness of how excessive play can damage offline commitments and relationships, allowing gamers to better monitor, evaluate, and ultimately regulate excessive game-play.
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    Magical Flight and Monstrous Stress: Technologies of Absorption and Mental Wellness in Azeroth
    (Springer, 2011) Snodgrass, Jeffrey G. ; Lacy, Michael G. ; Dengah, H.J. Francois II ; Fagan, Jesse ; Most, David
    Videogame players commonly report reaching deeply ‘immersive’ states of consciousness, in some cases growing to feel like they actually are their characters and really in the game, with such fantastic characters and places potentially only loosely connected to offline selves and realities. In the current investigation, we use interview and survey data to examine the effects of such ‘dissociative’ experiences on players of the popular online videogame, World of Warcraft (WoW). Of particular interest are ways in which WoW players’ emotional identification with in-game second selves can lead either to better mental well-being, through relaxation and satisfying positive stress, or, alternatively, to risky addiction-like experiences. Combining universalizing and context-dependent perspectives, we suggest that WoW and similar games can be thought of as new ‘technologies of absorption’—contemporary practices that can induce dissociative states in which players attribute dimensions of self and experience to in-game characters, with potential psychological benefit or harm. We present our research as an empirically grounded exploration of the mental health benefits and risks associated with dissociation in common everyday contexts. We believe studies such as ours may enrich existing theories of the health dynamics of dissociation, relying as they often do on data drawn either from Western clinical contexts involving pathological disintegrated personality disorders or non-Western ethnographic contexts involving spiritual trance.
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    Restorative Magical Adventure or Warcrack?: Motivated MMO Play and the Pleasures and Perils of Online Experience
    (SAGE, 2012-01) Snodgrass, Jeffrey G. ; Dengah, H.J. Francois II ; Lacy, Michael G. ; Fagan, Jesse ; Most, David ; Blank, Michael ; Howard, Lahoma ; Kershner, Chad R. ; Krambeer, Gregory ; Leavitt-Reynolds, Alissa ; Reynolds, Adam ; Vyvial-Larson, Jessica ; Whaley, Josh ; Wintersteen, Benjamin
    Combining perspectives from the new science of happiness with discussions regarding “problematic” and “addictive” play in multiplayer online games, we examine how player motivations pattern both positive and negative gaming experiences. Specifically, using ethnographic interviews and a survey, we explore the utility of Yee’s (2007) 3-factor motivational framework for explaining the positive or negative quality of experiences in the popular online game World of Warcraft. We find that playing to Achieve is strongly associated with distressful play, results that support findings from other studies. By contrast, Social and Immersion play lead more typically to positive gaming experiences, conclusions diverging from those frequently reported in the literature. Overall, we suggest that paying attention to the positive as well as negative dimensions of inhabiting these online worlds will both provide both for more balanced portraits of gamers’ experiences and also potentially clarify pathways toward problematic and addictive play.
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    Leet Noobs: Expertise and Collaboration in a World of Warcraft Player Group as Distributed Sociomaterial Practice
    (University of Washington Graduate School, 2010) Chen, Mark
    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.
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    Being in the World (of Warcraft): Raiding, Realism, and Knowledge Production in a Massively Multiplayer Online Game
    (Institute for Ethnographic Research, 2010) Golub, Alex
    This paper discusses two main claims made about virtual worlds: first, that people become “immersed” in virtual worlds because of their sensorial realism, and second, because virtual worlds appear to be “places” they can be studied without reference to the lives that their inhabitants live in the actual world. This paper argues against both of these claims by using data from an ethnographic study of knowledge production in World of Warcraft. First, these data demonstrate that highly-committed (“immersed”) players of World of Warcraft make their interfaces less sensorially realistic (rather than more so) in order to obtain useable knowledge about the game world. In this case, immersion and sensorial realism may be inversely correlated. Second, their commitment to the game leads them to engage in knowledge-making activities outside of it. Drawing loosely on phenomenology and contemporary theorizations of Oceania, I argue that what makes games truly “real” for players is the extent to which they create collective projects of action that people care about, not their imitation of sensorial qualia. Additionally, I argue that while purely in- game research is methodologically legitimate, a full account of member’s lives must study the articulation of in-game and out-of-game worlds and trace people’s engagement with virtual worlds across multiple domains, some virtual and some actual.
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    "Because it just looks cool!" Fashion as character performance: The Case of WoW
    (Virtual Worlds Institute, Inc., 2009-02) Klastrup, Lisbeth ; Tosca, Susana
    This paper explores the neglected area of clothing and fashion in computer games, particularly MMORPGs, which we claim is an important aspect of game aesthetics and player performance. Combining knowledge from the cultural studies of fashion with a study of the function and importance of clothing in the gameworld World of Warcraft (WoW), and drawing on qualitative methods, we argue that fashion in an online gameworld like WoW is a vehicle for personal storytelling and individualization.
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    Virtual Economies, Virtual Goods and Service Delivery in Virtual Worlds
    (Virtual Worlds Institute, Inc., 2010-02) Kosminsky, Eli
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