Social Influence in Gaming, Social Media, and Social Marketing

Joinson, Mckenna, Postmes, and Reips (2009) discuss three main types of social influence: compliance, norm-based influence, and interpersonal influence. Compliance takes place when an individual molds their actions around what is expected of them in a social situation; they act on other peoples’ expectations. Norm-based influence is when an individual makes a change to their behavior in order to fit in with their in-group, and do so of their own volition. Interpersonal influence takes place when and individual sees themselves as distict, and obtains information or perspective from other individuals which they see as useful, influential, or relevant; we may be persuaded by others whom we see as being applicable to our needs or personal validity.

Evidence of these social influences are readily found in online gaming communities. Barnett and Coulson (2010) discuss the formation of organized groups of players (aka guilds) in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) and what motivates players to join them. They note that due to the varying roles that must be played in order to accomplish goals within these guilds, players must trade information while still fulfilling their individual purposes. In this way, players exibit interpersonal influence on one another. Other research notes that players are influenced socially in game play, but do not clearly define whether the influence is compliant or norm-based (Cole & Griffiths, 2007).

An example of compliant social influence was uncovered when studying Facebook group use (Park, Kee, & Venezuela, 2009). Students report using Facebook groups because they felt compelled by fellow students and identified doing so as an in-group normative behavior.

Finally, norm-based influence can be found in social martketing (McKenzie-Mohr, 2000). When social marketers present desired behaviors as social normatives, individuals may alter their behaviors of their own choosing to match the desired behavior presented in the campaign. In this way, the individual avoids cognitive dissonance and is able to percieve themselves as complying with the more desirable behavior; that of the in-group as presented by the campaign.

When we understand how social influence affects behaviors and changes, as well as personal identities, we can not only understand changes in individuals but we are better equipped to use these influences to overcome marginalization, develop various skills, and teach others to follow suit.

References:

Barnett, J., & Coulson, M. (2010). Virtually real: A psychological perspective on massively multiplayer online games. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 167–179. doi:10.1037/a0019442
Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. D. (2007). Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 575–583. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.9988
Joinson, A. N. (2009). The Oxford handbook of Internet psychology. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
McKenzie-Mohr, D. (2000). Fostering sustainable behavior through community-based social marketing. American Psychologist, 55(5), 531–537. doi:10.1037//0003-066X.55.5.531
Park, N., Kee, K. F., & Valenzuela, S. (2009). Being immersed in social networking environment: Facebook groups, uses and gratifications, and social outcomes. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(6), 729–733. doi:10.1089/cpb.2009.0003
Advertisements

The Value of Words

Words have the merit to change behavior. Conditioned responses are the result of a repeated pairing of unconditioned stimulai and conditioned stimulai. Just as Pavlov’s dogs were conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell, people are conditioned to react to different words in a variety of ways. Words such as ‘war’ and ‘love’ invoke different emotions in every person who hear/see them, but these reactions vary based on the recipient’s past experiences or conditioning (Anderson, 2000).

Words have the merit to change perception of self. They are instrumental in the verification of one’s identity. Feedback allows individuals to determine whether their identity standard matches the identity they exhibit to others. Words allow those who are marginalized to try on identities via online connectivity without having to come face to face with others (Burke & Stets, 2009). When we do come face to face, words allow relationships to be conveyed and maintained (Pinker, 2005).

Therefore, the merit of words is directly related to the effect they have on the recipient of those words.

References:

Anderson, J. R. (2000). Learning and memory : an integrated approach. New York: Wiley.

Burke, P., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Pinker, S. (2005) The Stuff of Thought. TED Talk. Retrieved from http://blog.ted.com/2007/09/11/steven_pinker/

Essential Melodiness

So, here is what I love about studying identities: we are all made up of a variety of identities. We get to choose which ones we show, which ones we prioritize, how we define then, how we refine them, and how we use them to interact. When you ask someone (or even better, a group  of someones) to tell you who they are, their answers will vary vastly. Give them the task of choosing how to tell you, and the vastness of the variations expands. The colors, graphics, sounds, pictures, videos, words, textures, etc. that we use to produce something representative of our core all roll into that description as well. For more information on identities, check out the great book below. Meanwhile, here is my Glog introducing who I am. Enjoy!

Read More!

Burke, P., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

On a Personal Note…

 

Though I don’t typically write emotional responses here, I’m clearly an emotional being. That being said, it’s my blog, and I really want to share this amazing experience I had today; it’s been with me all day long. I want to talk about it because it’s something  that really hits home for me, as a large majority of my friends (and myself included) fall into the ‘alternative lifestyle’ category. I had the singular experience of having a friend come out to me today. Here’s the thing. I’m not SUPER close to him, but I adore him. He’s been a very good friend to some very good friends, and he is very talented. He’s always been SUPER nice to me and he’s very funny. Also, he likes the same comic book hero I do; there is NOTHING wrong with that. In fact, he harnassed that love of comics to help him with his expression.

I guess the thing on my mind is how honored I feel that someone who isn’t even all that close to me (granted, I’ve been secretly hoping we could be better friends), would feel comfortable telling me something this sacred. Only a few days after National Coming Out Day, I am still amazed at how many brave, resilient, kind people I’m surrounded by who have exclaimed that they are who they are and they’re proud. Though I’m not necessarily super quiet about my situation (polyamory), I’m not exclamatory about it either. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I do it in the interest of others who are connected to me; they have less accepting situations.

I digress. I guess I’d always wondered what it would be like to come out, but I hadn’t actually thought about it from the point of view of the recipient. I had considered other perspectives, though. My best friend was in a short scene this Summer. He played a gay father, whose son was coming out to him as straight. That was thought provoking in and of itself. I could spend all day thinking about it… it reminds me of when I considered the implications of tv coming before books (thanks to Steven Johnson). It makes me wonder what if the norm was homosexuality, and heterosexuality was the alternative lifestyle. But now, this is a perspective I can appreciate. That being said, I can’t imagine being anything other than honored and having a heart so full it feels as though it’s going to burst. I am very proud to be someone he trusts and someone who he has chosen to accompany him on this new path. I must be doing something right. And I hope & pray (to any god who will hear me) that anyone else who is honored enough to be trusted like this, realizes what an honor it truly is.

 

Pro Gamers as Athletes?

A few days ago, I came across this article on whether professional gamers should be considered athletes. While I don’t necessarily think the work “athlete” is appropriate to describe professional gamers, my reasons are nothing more than technical. Consider the definition from Dictionary.com:

“A person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.”

From my point of view, the only reason this isn’t necessarily a good word is the inclusion of “requiring”.

During the League of Legends World Championship Playoffs last week, one of the commentators mentioned the need for gamers to be physically fit, get lots of rest, avoid harmful substances, and an excess of anything that could detract from stamina, strengths, and agility. Phyiscal health has been linked to improved neuropsychological functioning in elders (Dustman et al., 1984) so it’s not hard to imagine that a healthy young adult is likely to stay more focused and endure a long bout of gaming better than one who is less physically fit.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s no such thing as an unfit professional gamer. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. While I think it is more likely that the more successful pro gamers will be more physically fit, I don’t think it’s a requirement. Of course, sumo wrestlers don’t seem the picture of health either, but what makes someone good at what they do is the directly related training specific to the sport/game. Awareness, meditation, practice, drive… these things most definitely come into play during gaming, but jogging a 5k isn’t probably going to be the make or break factor.

And no, that is not a permission slip to run out and buy a bag of Doritos a 2-liter of Mt. Dew before hunkering down in mom’s basement; we don’t want to return to that stereotype… got it?

References:

Dustman, R., Ruhling, R., Russell, E., Shearer, D., Bonekat, W., Shigeoka, J., … Bradford, D. (1984). Aerobic exercise training improved neuropsychological function of older individuals. Neurobiology of Aging, 5, 35-42. Retrieved from http://jtoomim.org/brain-training/aerobic%20execise%20and%20improved%20neuropsychological%20function%20in%20older%20adults.pdf

Shadis Magazine – Strip #12

See on Scoop.itMedia Psychology Goodness

Dork Tower | This is a great example of prosumerism. Also, I’ve never been a fan of either show. But I LOVE John Kovalic.

See on www.dorktower.com

Just the Tip of the “Gamification” Iceberg

Earlier this year, I was exposed to Seth Priebatsch via assigned reading/viewing for my Immersive Media & Mobile Advocacy class at Fielding. His TED Talk got me thinking; how is my life like a game? How could it be? As a gamer, are there ways to take what I know of my gaming motivations and use them as motivations for success in the real world? Can that work for motivating others around me? The contemplation is really endless; considering types of games and how they can be implemented into real life, what type of gamer you are and why, and how realistic would it be to implement gaming elements into you real life routine? I could go on and on.

So it shouldn’t have surprised me to see an article about a prison using gaming elements as reinforcement for desired behaviors. Scoop.it, how you know what I’m craving to read. I was also, surprised (again… shouldn’t have been) to see that it was written by Seth. He describes a prison (Louisiana State Pen) using various rewards (e.g., an annual rodeo, pet ownership, the opportunity to hold a job, etc.) as reinforcement for desired behavior. Some of the rewards require years of work and appropriate behavior to earn. Seth describes the reasons the game works: pride and meaning. He notes that the rewards (particularly the rodeo) means freedom, accomplishment, and notoriety. He also explains that these accomplishments are similar to levels in a game. Sometimes, we play games just to say we got to that unreachable level, or to see what came after reaching the top. The same elements can be applied to real life situations if we consider “gamification” fully and take its potential and power seriously.

References:

Priebatsch, S. (2012, August). Gaming reality. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/08/tech/gaming.series/prison.html

On Being a ‘Ginger’

Social norms come in all shapes and sizes. They change based on where you are, who you’re with, your culture, the weather, and sometimes they exist only because people THINK they do. Philosophers have been arguing morality and the breaking of social norms and values since the beginning of the ancient occupation. But what makes us take offense? Yesterday, I talked about harassment being in the eyes of the beholder, so how do we avoid offending and harassing if that is not, in fact, our intent? I’m not sure- though there is a lot of research other there- that there is a definitive answer. But what I do know is Abraham Lincoln made a good point when he said,

“You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

So why am I even concerned with this? One of my dear friends commented on my last blog, saying that he thought by the title it was going to be a call against all of those who call redheads ‘gingers’, and the discrimination that is cast our way. It occurred to me that a term that I think of as a compliment (the term ‘ginger’ is used as a means of denoting a red head with a fiery personality and spunk, in my group of friends), is actually used as an insult in some places. It got me thinking about the term, about being a red head, and about how interesting it is that perception varies so vastly. Also, I wanted him to know that I appreciate and value the differences in our perceptions.

“Cultural reactions have varied from ridicule to admiration; many common stereotypes exist regarding redheads and they are often portrayed as fiery-tempered.” (Red head, 2012)

Certainly, in England they have a more historically negative connotation for the term ‘ginger’, as red hair is most common in Scotland and Ireland (and most of us know the struggles there). Here in the US, it seems the biggest reason people are likely to find the term ‘ginger’ offensive is if they’ve in some way been exposed to the episode of South Park where they poke fun at prejudice in general using ‘gingers’ as the trait being discriminated against. Little did South Park writers know that  people wouldn’t get the irony they were going for (Ginger kids, 2012). Admittedly, it is hard to believe (not to mention be okay with) people supporting ‘Kick the Ginger Day’ (on FB the group apparently had over 5,000 supporters at one point). Nicely done, people. And, of course, if you grow up with red hair, you have undoubtedly been called ‘carrot top’ or some other ridiculous name (carrots are roots, people… they’re tops are GREEN). In some ways, the negative perception of the “mutation” in pigment is perpetuated by theatre and movies as well (Red head, 2012).

Then again, blondes and brunettes have various jokes made about them due to the color of their hair too. There is research that suggests that men perceive blondes as being less intelligent than brunettes, and redheads as being more temperamental than both blondes and brunettes (Weir & Fine-Davis, 1989).

Click the picture to check out this annual redhead day! SWEET!

No surprise there. In medieval times, they apparently thought redheads were over sexed (is there such a thing) and  morally degenerate. That explains the no soul thing, I suppose. However, in other cultures red hair is revered (apparently Muhammad was thought to have been a red head… score one BIG one for us!)

However you perceive the word ‘ginger’, I guess the point is to make sure you aren’t calling someone a ‘ginger’ who doesn’t want to be called by that name. Intention matters, and if you’re being cruel to someone, any word can become a derogatory one; keep it in mind. As for me, and I hope my friend forgives me for this, I’m going to keep calling my little rants ‘Ginger Rage’. I am proud of the fact that I am feisty, temperamental, and don’t have to dye my hair to have an excuse for it all. I take pride in my heritage (I’m Irish), in my excess of pheomelanin, and although “I have a thing for redheads” gets old as a pick up line, there’s a part of me that can’t blame them. We have the peacock thing happening… we’re pretty incredible, what can I say?

References: 

Ginger kids. (2012, September). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger_Kids

Red hair. (2012, September). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_hair#Beliefs_about_temperament

Weir, S., & Fine-Davis, M. (1989). “Dumb blonde” and “temperamental redhead”: The effect of hair colour on some attributed personality characteristics of women. The Irish Journal of Psychology, 10(1), 11-19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/617608718?accountid=10868

Ginger Rage: Cyber Bullying

The Rant…

Today I remembered just how maddening being bullied can be. Being bullied doesn’t have to be physical violence or blatantly offensive names; anything that belittles, embarrasses, or purposefully hurts in any way counts. So when someone uses Facebook comments to try to turn friends against you, it counts. So here is my take on it: social media is, among other things, a way for people to communicate in a safe environment. There are those who are socially inhibited or inept who find some measure of relief through the disinhibition being behind the computer screen affords. There are those who play games as a means of escaping the havoc of their offline lives, and experiences brief respite. Creepers, trolls, flamers, and stalkers make any situation- media or not- unsafe and downright frightening. In my example (my day… it was no bueno), when I find out that someone is attempting to turn my best friend against me, by using words (that were NOT meant for her) against me, I become afraid to say anything; to express myself. What’s more, I can’t see what is being said, or how much I’m exposing myself when it’s done with cyber stalking. So, rather than hiding, like so many others, I’m doing something about it. I’m giving her all the fodder she needs. There is a level of maturity that comes with being responsible technology users. While having freedom of speech is a right, it is also a privilege. Just because we have it, doesn’t mean we should abuse it or use it to hurt others. Just because you THINK there are no consequences to your actions, doesn’t mean there aren’t; you never know when it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass. So many of our pop culture favorites speak to this: Spider-man, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” the force in Star Wars, Thor and the abuse of his power on Asgard before his daddy reamed him… the list goes on. Just cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.

What we can do, however, is speak out against it. In the links below, I’m including a small variety of media which give examples of cyber bullying (from sexual harassment in video games to in school bullying), point to resources for prevention, and some research on the subject. Remember when you’re reading these links, that I’m in no way saying I agree with any of the bullying, regardless of whether I agree with the values or opinions of those who are being attacked. Bottom line: attacking is attacking is attacking. NO ONE DESERVES IT! Also, this is, by no means, an exhaustive list so be sure to check for yourself for more info. I hate to think Darwin’s survival of the fittest is at work with bullies too… but sometimes it’s really hard to endure being the good guy; so let’s stand together.

The Solution…

Feminist Blogger Is a Victim of a Vicious Videogame Retaliation

Ill Doctrine: All These Sexist Gamer Dudes Are Some Shook Ones

Cyberbullying: What School Administrators (And Parents) Can Do

Don’t Stand By: Stand Up Campaign

Cyberbullying Research Center

Cyberbully Movie (by ABC Family)

Game Review: Smite

First, let me start by saying that I’m a League of Legends (LoL) fangirl. I tell you this because when I say Smite might motivate me to leave LoL, it should have impact. Smite has all the things I like about LoL, but takes care of a few of the things I don’t; including the excessive number of trolls and flamers that Riot bans people for reporting. More on that another time. For now, let’s talk Smite!

I’ve always been interested in mythology; no secret there. I have written before about Joseph Campbell and his words of wisdom, not the least of which include the hero’s journey and the universality of myths as truths. Smite uses gods from a variety of mythologies (e.g., Greek, Hindu, Chinese, Egyptian, etc.) and turns them into mages and melee fighters. In teams of 5v5, you set off down the three lanes, all full of towers and minions (and yes, there are jungles too) all leading to your goal; the Minotaur. Take down the fierce golden Minotaur, and you claim victory for your team. Simple as that… in theory.

The view is third person, so it feels more like World of Warcraft than LoL in that respect. Movement is very familiar if you play WoW as well: WASD for running, number keys for abilities, and the mouse guiding your direction of travel. Like with LoL, you use favor (aka IP) or gems (the in-game currency that has to be purchased with actual money) to unlock gods and a variety of skins. There are some gods who excel at defense, some at magic use, and some at melee fighting; as in most any MOBA. And, of course, you can purchase a wide variety of items to passively buff any number of stats on each character. One of the great things about Smite (at least as compared to LoL) is the ability to have your items and abilities auto leveled for you. This means those who are consumed with trying NOT to nerf their team can focus on other things. As you’re entering the game, you simply unmark the boxes for either or both when you’re ready to customize your toon.

Since I’m sure you’re well versed in MOBAs by now, I’ll talk about particulars only briefly. The graphics for this game are phenomenal. The detail to the characters both in character select, in the animations for the skins, and in game play is breathtaking. The sounds for the game aren’t spectacular, but they’re not overwhelming either. The characters have their taunts and musings, and the voices are well done, but they are by no means meant to make or break the game. Something auditory, however, that I did find amusing/helpful was a verbal cue for team notifications. In other words, when someone is trying to warn you that the right lane that you’re trying to push is about to be ganked, a voice says, “Right lane under attack!” and whether you look at the map or read the chat log, you know what’s coming. To be honest, I prefer that to a “PING” any day. Especially when people are spamming the ping… but I digress.

In my opinion, the significant advantage this game has over LoL is the immersion. Because this game is done in third person point of view, the game is far more transportational than LoL is. There is no overhead view; you are IN the battlefield. This, of course, makes map awareness vital, but allies and opponents are labeled well from the third person view as well, so as long as they’re visible, you can easily weave your way through the jungles and lanes. Team fights are also facilitated well by the ease of map awareness and the point of view change. Another bonus (or frustration depending on how you play) is the immersion in fights. As a ranged character, every ability is a skill shot; you HAVE to aim your shots and be in range. However, you’re given an arrow to line your shots up with (making my life SO much easier). As a melee character, you can also see where your ability is going to hit (you can walk around with your ability range lit before you take the shot… VERY handy), but when you’re auto attacking, you have to stay oriented; much harder to do when you aren’t look on from above. 

From a psychological perspective, the social aspect of the game is definitely present; there are chat tabs that you’re constantly exposed to in the lobby (much like you are with WoW), and this is where you friend chats pop up as well. Anyone who has managed tabs on a web browser, can manage these. Though the game is in closed beta, current players have been given invitations to send to friends, and you can always request a game key directly from Hi-Rez (mine took only a few hours to arrive). Either way, the ability to play with friends is definitely a motivator for some to play this game. If your friends aren’t on the game (or you want to get REALLY good before you invite them… ahem…), there is still the team play socialization that facilitates cooperation, planning, leadership, and social adeptness. This game has levels, favor, and types of game play which become available only after reaching certain levels as a player; all of these become reinforcers and promote achievement based game play motivation. The increased immersion, thanks to the third person view, makes escapism and transportation easier and more fulfilling.

Whatever your reason for playing MOBAs, this game covers it well. If you’re a player who likes a laid back, stress free game there are solo training matches where you go one on one, and all characters are available for play. You don’t get favor here, but you get to try before you buy and you can get a feel for the game before you wade into the waters as a noob in the pvp realm. Once you get really good, there are ranked games with more game play styles being released soon. Now is a great time to start playing. If you like MOBAs, my guess is you’ll love this one; it’s not out with the old, in with the new. It’s, “Now here’s something we hope you’ll REALLY like!”