TED Conversations

Gary Riccio

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Community Organization and Impact in Online Games

We would like to have a conversation about interpersonal interactions and relationships within the communities that organize around online games. Our intent is to create a "natural laboratory" for this TED conversation by grounding the conversation in contemporaneous experiences of gamers that both reflect and influence the attendant community experiences. We are exploring this as a form of "participatory journalism" (see e.g., http://bit.ly/MgDdwA)

Use your browser (not the search utility in the panel at the upper left of this page) to find key words that will direct you to important topics in this conversation to date. Visitors can then reply to the relevant post or write an "original post" (OP).

* raw person or raw individual
* identity or persona or self
* self efficacy
* leadership

* engagement
* communication
* second-person standpoint
* communities or commitment

* respawn or one-life or lobbies
* mental health and wellness
* hard conversations
* civic hacking or civil hacking

* friends
* teach or learn
* civilized
* the long tail

Community interactions also can be interesting and consequential outside the context of the gameplay around which the community organizes. We believe this potential for games is poorly understood by the general public. Yet there is an intense and general curiosity about what occurs in the interactions among gamers and in the impact of gameplay in society.

Our claim is that there is "no neutral" in the effects of significant interpersonal interactions that occur in online games. Games have prosocial effects or antisocial effects irrespective of genre (e.g., first-person shooter games).

We are exploring this topic in a variety of forums such as:
http://griccio2103b.wordpress.com (e.g., tags: prosocial, violence),


Closing Statement from Gary Riccio

Our stated intent for this TED Conversation was "to create a natural laboratory for this TED conversation by grounding the conversation in contemporaneous experiences of gamers that both reflect and influence the attendant community experiences."

We refer to this kind of conversation as "diaβlogue." This is distinguished from a web-Based LOG of one’s own ephemeral opinions. A diaβlogue utilizes multiple communication platforms to create a distributed and decentralized collaboratory for systematic development of capabilities. It thus is a synthesis of best practices in “continuous beta” and "open innovation" (see http://tinyurl.com/Riccio-diaBlogue).

A diaβlogue removes walls between insiders and outsiders, it tends to eliminate the distance between presence and remoteness, and it blurs the distinction between first-hand and second-hand experience insofar as it provides all networked participants with inescapable accountability for their impact on each other and on their respective situations.

This TED Conversation built on what had been mostly oral communication between behavioral/social scientists and informants in and around a particular online game community over a two-year period. It has created a collaborative journal that is open to the public and, to the extent it is edifying, for the public good.

The TED Conversation did, in fact, both reflect and influence the contemporaneous experiences of gamers in the Division IGR. This collateral impact is documented at www.thedivisionigr.com as well as https://twitter.com/D_IGR and https://www.facebook.com/THEDIVISIONIGR?ref=hl. We believe we thus have made some progress in developing or at least promulgating a new form of participatory science journalism (http://bit.ly/MgDdwA).

While our intent was to build bridges between communities of practice rather than to draw a large audience, we are pleased that the open conversation has drawn outside interest ranging from "Linked Wellness" to "Blended Learning."

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    Feb 17 2014: Thank you Dr. Riccio for sparking discussion on such and interesting and long overlooked topic

    In my personal experience with online communities I've seen some of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. These titles do lead one to infer the characteristics of the persona portrayed within each community, however what I hope is not overshadowed is the fact that they all have a role to play in the bigger picture. Were it not for an opposition to clash against a pursuit there would be less emphasis on evolution and improvement within a community. Without the proverbial villain, the hero has nothing to draw stark contrast to his principles, and the color he imparts on this world would not shine so vividly for all to see. It is in this way that we don't chastise those who do not yet see the light, but hope that they may some day come to see what we see.

    The "Ugly" as I candidly refer to it, is derived of ego driven self indulgent communities who serve only to prosper themselves through online interaction. The antisocial behavior they engage in is used to prop themselves up and to promote their strengths. Generally speaking, these communities are not interested in the spread of their ideals as much as reaching desired levels of self satisfaction and reaching short term goals. In my experience they are actually not really a community as much as loosely tied individuals who come together only when strength in numbers or some form of group consciousness will help each individual reach a desired outcome. In the broader economic sense this can be attributed to each individual acting rationally to reach his or her outcomes with no regard for the greater well being of others. This form of community is fleeting and typically short lived. As motivations are not driven by ideals and are more or less associated with in game goals.

    The "Bad" ...........

    Due to character limit, comment continued at: http://community.thedivisionigr.com/index.php?/topic/105-we-have-a-ted-conversation/?p=179
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      Feb 17 2014: I am speechless, Matthew, and that doesn't happen very often (smile). Thank you so much for this framework in helping us understand nested communities, insurgent groups that aren't communities but pass through them online just as in the real world, and individual development within a "tight social fabric."
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      Feb 17 2014: I went to your link, which taught me another thing that would not have occurred to me. Please correct me if I misunderstood this.

      I had assumed that communities surround a single game, such that there might be a community of people devoted to Game x or Game y.

      From reading your statement of clan history (forgive any misuse of the vocabulary of your organization- I think you understand me anyway), your group moves about and plays a variety of different online games. It's as if rather than being a soccer team or a basketball team or a tennis team, you are a team that plays all sorts of online games.

      Or did I misunderstand that and some of you specialize?

      Forgive me these questions. I am of a generation and gender that doesn't know.
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        Feb 19 2014: Fritzie-, very astute observation. I believe you are in fact right that the majority of communities focus their attention on one game, but generally speaking it's one franchise such that they move on to the newest version of the game. I think that's fairly common in the business world, where most companies focus on one product or product line. Companies who do grow out to support multiple products or industries likely started small and had to work their way there. We have done much the same as you will find in our history. The bonds that form by those familiar with the product that initially spawned our community help create a bond in spirit.

        We grew out of necessity and a desire by our collective to have some variety and choice. In the end it proved to be a valuable learning experience. We continue to recognize differences amongst different franchises about who plays what and why. One of the biggest revelations in this process was that our formula absolutely translates outside of its origins. Through this realization and the bonds created by our members we have survived the seemingly absolute death of the franchise this community was founded around. We have taken our Constitution and made it applicable on a broader stage. This has taken considerable time and effort, but the rewards greatly exceed the cost in providing a firm foundation for us to continue to build upon.
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      Feb 22 2014: Silver wrote: "In my interactions thought the community spaces online I have searched to be a part of the latter. I believe that standing on principle and interacting through Pro-Social engagement that communities can have a meaningful and lasting impact on the world. I believe I have found that opportunity in the Community I am glad to call myself a Member of. I can only hope that as we strive to improve the world for others that they in turn will begin working to do the same."

      Your breakdown of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly was both potent and spot on Silver. Amazing articulation.

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