Better Citizenship Through WoW?

February 11, 2009 -

Can playing World of Warcraft make you a better citizen of the real world?

Perhaps.

A study by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Constance Steinkuehler found that WoW players were more likely to listen to and reason things out with their fellow Azeroth residents.

Steinkuehler spoke on the benefits of digital worlds at a museum in Madison last night. As reported by the Capital Times, her remarks included:

Learning how to navigate [the online world's] diversity is "in the big scheme of life" about citizenship, she said...

Video games... push social norms and practices because those things are necessary to succeed at highly complex MMOGs like World of Warcraft, Steinkuehler said...

 

Her work included analysis of message boards where World of Warcraft players get together... She found that 65 percent of the discussion was "evaluative" vs. 30 percent "absolutist" -- "My idea is right and not open to discussion" -- and 5 percent "relative" -- it's just opinion and no one is right.

In contrast, she said studies have found that the U.S. population is only 15 percent evaluative, 50 percent absolutist and 35 percent relativist...

Steinkuehler likened the efforts of gamers to President Obama's neighbor-to-neighbor tool where, for example, volunteers surveyed their neighborhoods and updated the campaign's database.


Comments

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

I can't agree that the official WoW message boards are that hospitable.  It's filled with trolls, flamers and flamebaiters- just like any loosely moderated forum on the Internet.

I also think her analysis is flawed.  She is taking her numbers only from the people who actively participate in discussions- thus, she sees a lot of people willing to talk and listen: the evaluatives, with the only absolutists and relativists she's seeing and using in her study being the vocal ones.

She has to consider that those two latter viewpoints are likely to simply not say anything, especially on Internet forums.  For her study to be accurate, she has to follow up on those who only read through threads without posting anything and try to get their actual opinions.

Furthermore, an MMO like WoW is a naturally evaluative environment.  Most of the discussion is about gameply, strategy, tactics- what works and what doesn't in the game.  Most of the dissent can easily be empirically tested out in the game.  And since it's a computer game, there's also math that can be checked and followed to prove or disprove one's point.

This is a far cry from the full range of human opinion, which includes religion, politics, morality, etc. where such things cannot be determined by experimentation and objective analysis.

As a PC gamer and WoW player, it's nice to hear good news, but even that should be taken with a grain of salt.

As for Barrens and Trade Chat, I just ignore it as much as I can, trying to focus only on stuff that's relevant- helpful info or opportunities for commerce.  But it can be pretty hard not to notice the crap that usually goes on in there.  Even the serious discussions can be painful.

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

She apparently hasn't been to the Barrens Chat...or Trade chat.  I mentioned on a previous article the anal epidemic that struck the trade chat (and thus trading stopped...not that there wasn't much trading going on in the first place).

there's also the amount of people complaining about being nerfed or nerfing other classes, the amount of people calling each other names and the amount of useless chat that goes on.

 

This is why i stick to my guild chat.  Much more awesome and fun.

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

And again, she used the MESSAGE BOARDS - not ingame chat.

And the former is arguably a much more hospitable place - even for the maturity (or lack of) of WoW's playerbase.

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

"analysis of message boards"

So not the in-game chat.

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

I agree with the biased comment. Who is back this study I wonder. Not to be overly paranoid, but honestly. This must be a bit of a stretch. From my personal experience studies need to be evaluated from a credibility perspective before they can be considered viable. I mean, I wish video gaming was going to make society a better place, but let's be honest. Well, perhaps the Wii is going to improve our world, but that isn't really a gaming machine. Is it???

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Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

Isn't it possible that WOW just attracts people who listen a little better or intend to work together. I mean most people I talk to who play MMOs join because there's other people there.

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

I swore I read it as "Better censorship though WOW".....

 


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Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

Guess they don't take into account gen and trade chat spam. Had to turn every public channel off just to enjoy the expansion again.

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

WTF? You make mention about Obama in article but if we dare to speak ill of Obama it cannot be posted? If you don't want people to mention your Lord God and Savior then maybe you shouldn't mention him by name of put at the bottom of the screen, thou shall not speak lords name (obama) in vain.

I smell bias

 

 

 

*SNIP*

EZK: Please Don't post off topic comments.

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

No, you were making an off topic post about the lack of obama themed games being reported on the site, while many republican themed games are being reported on.

Had you comment actually been pertenant to the mention of Obama in the article, I wouldn't have cared less if you were mentioned.

But as it stands, your post was a complete "Why aren't you posting what I think you should be posting" type comment.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

i take it she stayed out of trade chat (my guess is shes only talking about group chat)

Re: Better Citizenship Through WoW?

Eh, based on what I've seen, she must ignored 90% of the whining and complaining that normally goes on.

Side note, the title just made catchphrases from Starship Troopers flood through my mind.  "Service guarantees citizenship!"

 
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