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Social play?: a study of social interaction in temporary group formation (PUG) in World of Warcraft
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
2010 (English)In: Proceedings of DiGRA Nordic 2010: Experiencing Games: Games, Play, and Players (2010), 2010Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

One of the main components and reasons for the success of the Massive Multiplayer Online Games genre (MMOG) is that these games are seen as arenas for social interaction. The focus of this paper is the phenomenon of “Pick up Groups ” (PUGs), a neglected aspect of online gaming. How is the social interaction structured in these temporary groups?

The results of a participant observation study reveal a low level of social interaction between PUG players. Communication is held to a minimum and dungeons completed at high speed. Even in the event of downtime, interaction is rare. What little interaction has been observed is divided into instrumental and sociable interaction. A higher level of sociable interaction was found when several players from the same guild played together in the same group. But looking at greetings and goodbyes, normally used to acknowledge an ongoing social situation, we see that the social engagement in most PUGs is low.

In summary, social interaction in PUGs, if any, is mainly instrumental, making these temporary groups unsocial game experiences; something not normally associated with group play in the MMOG genre.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
PuG, Sociability, Social Interaction, Looking for group, World of Warcraft
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Human-Machine-Interaction (MMI)
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-51993OAI: diva2:386473
DiGRA Nordic 2010: Experiencing Games: Games, Play, and Players (2010), First Nordic Digra August 16-17, 2010, Stockholm, Sweden
Available from: 2011-01-12 Created: 2011-01-12 Last updated: 2013-10-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Do Non Player Characters dream of electric sheep?: A thesis about Players, NPCs, Immersion and Believability
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Do Non Player Characters dream of electric sheep?: A thesis about Players, NPCs, Immersion and Believability
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This is a thesis that deals with the norms and rules of players playing online games together. It is also a thesis about believability, the current capabilities of non-player characters (NPCs) and the attitudes amongst game developers towards dynamic and systemic games AI.

The primary theme of this thesis considers which means of communication and coordination in terms of norms and rules are present in groups of players and particularly in guilds and clans playing Massively Multi Online Games (MMOGs) and First Person Shooters (FPSs) respectively. The presence of norms in these types of groups has been overlooked in previous research even though guilds have been addressed to some extent. When rules have been discussed in games research, the actual use, meaning and interpretation behind these rules from a player perspective has been omitted. In this thesis rules and norms are interpreted from a guild and clan perspective as important means for coordination, used in order to keep the group together. The implicit rules are further seen as implicit rules made explicit through guild and clan forums where these groups of players express how to preserve the shared game experience. The absence of rituals, norms and rules has also been studied in temporary groups of one MMOG, with the explanation that existing relations with other players are maintained in these game sessions, but new relations are usually seen as too costly to invest in.

The second theme is directed at believability and the state of current NPCs, how immersion is influenced by NPCs that do not act in believable ways. The second theme is also influenced by the first theme, whereby rules and norms are seen as valuable tools for creating believability in NPCs, directly targeting the social layer, a slightly overlooked area of research.

The last section is directed at applying the results from the first section, how players play by the rules and norms of the group, and how this could foster believability in NPCs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kista: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University, 2013. 102 p.
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 13-004
Social norms, MMOGs, MORPGs, FPS, Clans, Guilds, Rules, NPCs, Games AI, Game Design, Game evaluation tools, Immersion, Believability
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89293 (URN)978-91-7447-708-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-06-07, Sal C, Forum 100, Isafjordsgatan 39, Kista, 10:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: In press. Paper 5: In press. Paper 6: In press.

Available from: 2013-05-16 Created: 2013-04-19 Last updated: 2013-06-14Bibliographically approved

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Eklund, LinaJohansson, Magnus
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