Role-Playing on Twitter

Role-playing on Twitter may be an effective tool with which individuals may seek online support. Play, in general, is not only a method for escaping the difficulties and mundane activities of every day life, it is also a way for us to understand ourselves, our place in the world, and our relations to others (Chayko, 2008). Role-play, more specifically, has been used for education (Riddle, 2008), the processing and resolution of conflict (Houston, Magill, McCollum, & Spratt, 2001), and as a way to hone interpersonal skills in both virtual and face-to-face communities (Jung, 2007). Twitter, specifically, facilitates disinhibition in virtual connectivity (Joinson, 2007), intimacy via written text (Tanis, 2007), specifically targeted audiences (Marwick & boyd, 2010), and connect to communities based on common interests (Zappavigna, 2011).

role-playing-games-rpg-demotivational-posters-1341522698One example of role-playing on Twitter is the individuals brought together by their interest in League of Legends (LoL), a massively online battle arena (MOBA), who have created Twitter accounts posing as characters from the game. Those characters, bound in some way by the lore already created by game developers, interact in a way which allows LoL to become immersive. These characters already belong to communities, based on their lore, however the community of role-players also begin to develop “meta” rules (e.g., social norms) for what is acceptable behavior when acting as a character. For instance, when speaking out of character the role-player must use “//” before the text.

fantasy_roleplayingRole-players use text to indicate physical movement as well. This is consistent with Tanis’s (2007) note that individuals change writing forms and word usage to indicate non-verbal cues when having text based conversations in which non-verbal cues are necessary. When becoming a part of this community, role-players who have been in the community longer, use the direct message function of Twitter to explain abbreviations, meta rules, and work out characters’ story lines (or TL’s). This sharing of information is also consistent with Parks (2011) assertion that communities inherently have a form of information sharing. Additionally, this community allows for strong bonds between players, allowing for informational and emotional support (Tanis, 2007).

Role-playing in online communities, such as the ones found on Twitter, allow us to learn to develop identities (whether our own, or role-played), adhere to social norms and meta rules for communities, become immersed or facilitated the immersion of others into a transmedia story, and provide or find support using online connectivity.

References:

Chayko, M. (2008). Portable communities : the social dynamics of online and mobile connectedness. Albany: SUNY.

Houston, S., Magill, T., McCollum, M., & Spratt, T. (2001). Developing creative solutions to the problems of children and their families: Communicative reason and the use of forum theatre. Child and Family Social Work, 6, 285-293.

Joinson, A. (2007). Disinhibition and the internet. In J. Gackenbach (Ed.), Psychology and the Internet: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal Implications, (pp. 75-92). New York, NY: Elsevier.

Jung, Y. (2007). Role enactment in interactive media: A role-play perspective. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, , 4124-4124. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/621722683?accountid=10868. (621722683; 2008-99070-189).

Marwick, A. E., & boyd, d. (2010). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1), 114–133. doi:10.1177/1461444810365313
Riddle, M. D. (2009). The Campaign: a case study in identity construction through performance. ALT-J, 17(1), 63–72. doi:10.1080/09687760802649855
Parks, M. (2011). Social network sites as virtual communities. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites, (pp. 105-123). New York, NY: Routledge.
Tanis, M. (2009). Online social support groups. In A. Joinson, K. McKenna, T. Postmes & U. Reips (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology, (pp. 139-163). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Zappavigna, M. (2011). Ambient affiliation: A linguistic perspective on Twitter. New Media & Society, 13(5), 788–806. doi:10.1177/1461444810385097
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Fog of War: References for Weeks 1 and 2

Before We Get Started…

Let me say, before I list these, that I’m attempting to bring in both perspectives in ways that are not offensive. These aren’t research articles that are necessarily representing my point of view, but rather provide insight into all views (without calling the opposing view stupid or wrong).


Week 1: Sexualization, Marginalization, and Causation- OH MY!

For week one, we talked about the sexualization of characters, marginalization in gaming communities, and possible causation of sexism in gaming. Per our discussion, I haven’t been subjected to sexism in gaming, and Micah sees it happening and thinks that the players are at fault; not the game devs. John brought up the advertising aspect, noting that advertisers lead the trends, and gamers follow. I reminded him that while we have correlation, we don’t really have causation.

References:

Bice, M. (2011). On men’s sexualization in video games. Gamasutra. Retrieved from: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/MattieBrice/20111129/9003/On_Mens_Sexualization_in_Video_Games.php

Bycer, J. (2012). . The difficulties and controversies of designing female characters: Or how not to add a woman’s touch. Gamasutra. 

Cassell, J., & Jenkins, H. (2000). From Barbie® to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. MIT Press.

Dickey, M. D. (2006). Girl gamers: the controversy of girl games and the relevance of female-oriented game design for instructional design. British journal of educational technology37(5), 785–793.

DuVoix, H. (2012). Venus in Mars: Gender equality in fighting games. Ontological Geek. Retrieved from: http://ontologicalgeek.com/venus-in-mars-gender-equality-in-fighting-games/

Ivory, J. D. (2006). Still a Man’s Game: Gender Representation in Online Reviews of Video Games. Mass Communication and Society9(1), 103–114. doi:10.1207/s15327825mcs0901_6

Nerdlove. (2011). Nerds and male privilege. Paging Dr. Nerdlove. Retrieved from: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/11/nerds-and-male-privilege/

Sharkey, S. (n.d.). Top 5 most attractive, non-sexualized women in games. 1Up.com. Retrieved from: http://www.1up.com/features/top-5-attractive-nonsexualized-women

Week 2: An Ode to Those Media Literate Kiddos!

In week two, we talked about children (of all ages) and the benefits of media literacy. We discussed educational uses for media, motivations in gaming, and things that can be learned from each genre of game. Micah, John, and I all discussed our favorite game genres, and what we feel we’ve learned from them.

References:

Annetta, L. A. (2010). The “I’s” have it: A framework for serious educational game design. Review of General Psychology14(2), 105–112. doi:10.1037/a0018985

Barnett, J., & Coulson, M. (2010). Virtually real: A psychological perspective on massively multiplayer online games. Review of General Psychology14(2), 167–179. doi:10.1037/a0019442

Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. D. (2007). Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers. CyberPsychology & Behavior10(4), 575–583. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.9988

Dieterle, E., & Clarke, J. (in press). Multi-user virtual environments for teaching and learning. In M. Pagani (Ed.), Encyclopedia of multimedia technology and networking (2nd ed). Hershey, PA: Idea Group, Inc.

Floyd, D. (2008). Video games and learning[Web Video]. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN0qRKjfX3s

Gackenbach, J. (Ed.). (2007). Psychology and the internet : intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal implications. Amsterdam; Boston: Elsevier/Academic Press.

Giles, D. (2010). Psychology of the media. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ohler, J. (2008). Digital storytelling in the classroom new media pathways to literacy, learning, and creativity. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press. Retrieved from http://catalog.hathitrust.org/api/volumes/oclc/86038208.html

Rosas, R., Nussbaum, M., Cumsille, P., Marianov, V., Correa, M., Flores, P., Grau, V., et al. (2002). Beyond Nintendo. design and assessment of educational video games for first and second grade students.pdf. Computers & Education, 40(2003), 71–94.

Zhou, Z., Jin, X.-L., Vogel, D. R., Fang, Y., & Chen, X. (2011). Individual motivations and demographic differences in social virtual world uses: An exploratory investigation in Second Life. International Journal of Information Management, 31(3), 261–271. doi:10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2010.07.007

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

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

Augmented Reality: Don’t Worry, It Won’t Bite

Though augmented reality (AR) is becoming more and more predominate in the gaming community, it isn’t likely to replace gaming as it stands now. Henry Jenkins (2008) notes that one of the most common fears of media based companies is the advent of new media. He reminds them that new media compliments- not replaces- existing media. This, I believe, is the same idea behind AR’s place in gaming. Still to this day, games built on 64 and even 8 bit graphics are very popular. Gamers tend to be motivated by the content of the game and less by the visual appeal (Yee, 2006). That being said, and in light of the fact that this is obviously a personal preference thing, immersion is absolutely a motivational factor for game play. However, the game has to be done right. Think of it in terms of The Lord of the Rings has to have a good plot, not just good computer graphics.

A good example of this is the  Spider-Man AR app. There are levels/missions that can be unlocked and achievements to be had by going through a variety of activities. Some of these activities involve computers, and some involve going to stores to interact with merchandise; a brilliant way to create consumer loyalty, resonance, and solidify brand identity. Though this game appeals to a variety of motivational types in gaming, (including immersion and achievement), it doesn’t quite fulfill all of them. We’ve seen how a variety of gaming styles, platforms, and media can be- and often are- used simultaneously or thoughtfully chosen between. The Wii didn’t bring an end to controllers and neither did the Kinect. The PS2 didn’t cause every N64 to evaporate off the face of the earth. Similarly, there are still several reasons why someone would choose the XBox 360 game over the AR app; not the least of which is the desire for escapism. Let’s be honest, combining your world with a different world doesn’t exactly let you ESCAPE your world, does it?

Don’t get me wrong, being able to put a contact lens in my eye in order to apprehend the Second Life style bad guy who happens to be running through the super market as I go shopping doesn’t sound like a terrible addition to my sometimes mundane life. But history has told us that retro never goes out of style with gaming, and sometimes you need the click of the mouse, the mashing of the a, b, x, and y buttons, or the “strumming” of the fake guitar to wash away your IRL blues.

References:

Jenkins, H. (2008). Convergence culture where old and new media collide. New York; London: New York University Press.
Yee, N. (2006). Motivations for play in online games. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(6), 772-775.

Collective Intelligence in Gaming

What collective intelligence looks like as a gamer

As Holland touched on, gaming is an area in which tangential learning has become something of a researcher’s playground. Barnett and Coulson (2010) sought to understand player interactions in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). They looked at factors such as socialization, transference of skills from virtual to real world applications, immersion, and group achievements. They note that MMOs have been used as tools for teaching, and players who develop social skills via gameplay (e.g., forming groups, effective communication, etc.) are able to then use those skills in out of game settings successfully. Specifically, with regards to collective intelligence, when a gamer gets onto a game, and comes away with skills such as socialization and effective team participation or leadership, that is a credit to the group as a whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

But it isn’t just MMOs that create this kind of tangential skill learning. First-person shooters (FPSs) also allow team coordination, the dissemination of knowledge between players, and real world applicability (Frostling-Henningsson, 2009). Players in this study reported feeling a greater variety of experiences (which they then share with other players… collective intelligence), and were found to be most motivated by the socialization and communication factors inherent in the game. Diane Carr (2011) found that gamers make game choices or have genre preferences based on their own experiences and the experiences others have shared with them. She calls it “peer culture”.

While these games typically don’t change much (some patches are created to accommodate game play or gamer preferences on the whole), people continue to play. In my experience as a game review, replayability is one of the most important factors, and typically the most replayable games are the ones that have a social component. Because, in games like League of Legends (my personal favorite MMO), the game is the same over and over, but the people you play with, the things you learn from them, the experiences you gain via the combinations of players/characters/teams, are what keep you coming back for more.

References:

Barnett, J., & Coulson, M. (2010). Virtually real: A psychological perspective on massively multiplayer online games. Review of General Psychology14(2), 167-179. doi: 10.1037/a0019442

Carr, D. (2011). Contexts, gaming pleasures, and gendered preferences. Simulation & Gaming36(4). 464-482. doi: 10.1177.1046878105282160

Frostling-Henningsson, M. (2009). First-person shooter games as a way of connecting to people: “Brothers in blood”. CyberPsychology & Behavior12(5), 557-562. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0345