Net Surfers Do Ride Alone

An article I wrote for my second semester on the IT University.

In recent years Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) have received great attention, especially after the launch of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft (WoW) which helped elevating games and specifically the MMOGs to become more mainstream, by offering a very polished product, even in its early beta stages, that also catered to the casual player, who wasn’t necessarily an expert in playing online games. WoW caters to various groups of people, including the casual players, the hardcore players, the role-players, those that enjoy Player versus Player combat and those that prefer Player versus Environment (scripted content). This diversity ensures that a lot of people can find something to do in the game world, but just like Jakobsson & Taylor (2003) argues regarding Everquest, then WoW (which is similar to Everquest in its social structures) is also best experienced while in the company of others, mixing play and socializing.

The basis for this study was my own experiences in WoW, which initially sparked the thoughts regarding who we play with (and maybe more importantly, who we don’t). I have played WoW on and off in various social environments, including casual and hardcore ranging between zero to thirty hours a week, for about four years, primarily on the United States servers. But after transferring to the European servers, I experienced an event which I had never encountered on the United States servers, where the shared language of choice is English; someone was unwilling to invite me to their group due to the fact that I was unable to speak their native tongue, even though a lot of the more menial tasks and challenges can be overcome with little to no or simple communication. But I couldn’t get angry at being turned down, for pondering further upon the experience I can say that most players I know, and even myself, aren’t that much different. We play with some people over others, all for various reasons. And it is these reasons I find interesting and worth exploring further.

My theory is that “the majority of players in WoW play with those they do due to selfish reasons”. In this study I will delve into my theory and explore the various reasons why we play with those we do, be it obtaining our own goals, gaining social capital or something else, and also why we chose not to play with others.

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