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

Hoy, la etnografía más allá de los límites materiales: Etnografía en el Videojuego multijugador masivo en línea World of Warcraft (WoW) realizada por Mark Chen.

I have been playing World of Warcraft for over 20 months, spending an average of 20 hours a week in-game. I mostly play on a server which emphasizes role-playing (RP) and completing in-game tasks rather than player-vs.-player (PvP) combat. What this means is that the way people talk is often not as abbreviated as it is in the stereotypical “leet speak” shorthand (e.g., cu l8er) and more like how one would see dialog written in a novel. I also play characters that belong to the Horde, the underdog faction, and I’ve found that a lot of Horde players enjoy complaining about how the Alliance is everywhere and have an unfair advantage.

En el siguiente enlace se puede leer como había sido hasta ese momento el proceso de la etnografía en WoW:

A continuación se puede encontrar la tesis para el grado de Doctor en Filosofía, llamada Leet Noobs: Expertise and Collaboration in a World of Warcraft Player Group as Distributed Sociomaterial Practice 1 .

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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