CyberSociology An interesting site for readings on…

CyberSociology
An interesting site for readings on the field of sociology and all things digital with journal links and other interesting tidbits of information.

There is also a forum site. It is a mixture of academic discussion and anectdotal conversation.
A good place to keep an eye on.

Advertisements

Server Merges & Society It has come to my attenti…

Server Merges & Society

It has come to my attention over the weekend, that Everquest will be merging some of the lesser populated servers. This merge has peeked my interest because it raises a few questions about the non-design elements of the game – community. Although the game is designed with the idea of community and society, people can still play the game without actually forming cohesive groups of friends and foes.

Within each server, there is a social hiearchy containing your one or two “uber guilds”, a few top tier guilds and so on, down to the casual gamer guilds. The top tier and “uber” guilds usually work out a system that allows them to compete for the same end-game resources. In the case of a merger, essentially, you are doubling the social structure – I wonder how that affects the competition and ego levels of the top guilds.

When we played Horizons, they also merged their servers, and there was alot of complaints within the game about property allocation and community balance. Essentially, the height of the game was to buy hot property and build on it using the resources and skills of players. Each server, being a carbon copy of each other, each had the same scale of best lots down to the commonly empty lots way out in the middle of nowhere. When the merge happened, there had to be a compromise between lot owners, since they went from two worlds to one, someone inevitably lost out.

So in the case of the Everquest merge, they state that earlier mergers were more successful then they had hoped but besides server population, how is that success measured.

Although, it does allow for a ‘shake up’ of a potentially stale server. There was a conversation over at Terra Nova that talked about how to keep a game fresh over long periods of time. From character wipes to server wipes, perhaps this is a decent solution.

Work in Progress Midway through my last semester …

Work in Progress

Midway through my last semester of my undergrad degree at Concordia University, and I have been keeping relatively busy. Working on my honour’s thesis, which will be presented at the upcoming Sociology & Anthropology Graduate Students Association (SAGSA) conference and a conference paper for DiGRA, and figured I would share the abstracts on my work in progress.

Here is the Honour’s abstract:
——————————————————————
A Definitional Exploration of Identity in Massively Multi-User Online Role-Playing Games

The concept of identity is a wide ranging and ambiguous concept that spans across several academic disciplines. The word identity is flung about quite liberally, without much regard to any deeper definitional concern. This is problematic when dealing with topics that are multi-disciplinary in their very nature. The relatively young field of video-game studies suffers from this problem. Words and concepts are borrowed from several disciplines such as literary studies, film studies, and sociology. This melding of terminology often leads to many discussions and disagreements surrounding definitional concerns, and at times, can cause a potentially exciting theory to be lost in a debate of semantics.

In order to work towards a theoretical perspective in order to understand identity in the context of massively multi-user online role-playing games [MMORPG’s], this presentation will investigate existing theoretical work categorized in three thematic categories; fixed identity, negotiated identity and fluid identity. Through the various theories of identity and its construction, from classical sociological perspectives to post modern theories of identity in the digital age, this paper will explore the impact of how one constructs their identity, how important commitment is to identity and how individuals perceive their identity found within each thematic category.

————————————————
And here is the DiGRA abstract:
————————————————-
Role Theory: The Line Between Roles as Design and Socialization in EverQuest

The point of entry for a player into the game of EverQuest occurs through the role of a primary character. Each character fulfills a particular, functional role within the game that defines the game-play experience for the player. A character’s role defines the basis of identity for both the player and the character while in the game space. The character’s role determines the initial purpose of the player once in the game world. Inherent in the game design is a hierarchy based on class which affects how the game is appropriated by the player.

Traditional sociological role theory explores the functional role of each member within structured groups found in society. Using the works of Parsons [1965], Merton [1949], Turner [1952] and Biddle [1986], among others, this paper aims to work towards a foundational theory that can be used to explore the layered elements that create the social world of massively multi user online games.

This framework will be employed to understand how class structure is designed in the game of EverQuest as expressed through the ideal group. From this ideal group structure, this paper aims to demonstrate how players redefine the role based hierarchies through self regulated rules of play, player choices, and sociability – which in essence, deconstructs the very foundation of role theory that the game is based on.

———————————————————————

Any feedback or insight is always more then appreciated