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),
http://www.thedivisionigr.com/3-cs.html
https://medium.com/@URBN_SCIENCE
https://twitter.com/URBN_SCIENCE

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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 19 2014: As there have been references in the thread to the development of leadership in gaming communities, today's TED talk about the attributes of successful 21st century leaders may be of interest. http://www.ted.com/speakers/roselinde_torres.html
    • Feb 20 2014: Roselinde's presentation on great leadership was extremely fun to watch. The three questions worth asking:

      "Are you looking to anticipate change?"
      "What is the diversity measure of your work?"
      "Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?"

      And how do you think that applies to our TED conversation?
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        Feb 20 2014: These questions might be reasonable to ask for their applicability, or their exercise, in a gaming context as part of developing leaders.

        For example, how does the game context model shifting parameters of a sort that would provide exercise in leading in anticipation of structural change?

        Does the game community reflect a broad demographic diversity of the sort she supports and that parallels arenas of outside application?

        And so forth.
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        Feb 20 2014: Thank you, Daniel. The "three questions" relate to a phenomenon of adaptive leadership we have observed outside of games and broader issues we discussed in our group Skype chat this evening. In particular, there is something we have come to call a "period of mourning" we commonly observe during leader development. What is this?

        Well, imagine a situation in which one is led to appreciate a very different way to approach people or situations that can make one much more effective. Mindful leaders are momentarily torn between two emotions. There is an exhilaration in realizing how much more effective or influential one can be with this new insight. There also is the realization that one could have been much more effective in prior situations, situations one has carried in memory as unmitigated successes, sometimes involving significant emotional experiences that had an existential impact on others.

        The realization that one might have done things much better in the past almost always leads to a shocking sadness in reappraisal of apparent success in one's past, in the sense of self efficacy, in one's image of oneself, the impact one has had on others, and the accountability one has in a community of practice. The best leaders, in our experience, take this as a serious blow that can take months to overcome. It seems to have many of the characteristics of grief and loss (death?) of a prior sense of self.

        Fortunately, in every case we have observed, leaders emerge from this period changed fundamentally about the continuous learning that is required of them when put in the most challenging situations, actually most situations in the current age.

        A gamer community can foster this kind of leader development if gamers experience mutual caring and challenge that is very different from, and not inconsistent with, what they expected when joining the community for different reasons, such as having fun or developing gaming skills.
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      Feb 22 2014: Gary wrote: "Well, imagine a situation in which one is led to appreciate a very different way to approach people or situations that can make one much more effective. Mindful leaders are momentarily torn between two emotions. There is an exhilaration in realizing how much more effective or influential one can be with this new insight. There also is the realization that one could have been much more effective in prior situations, situations one has carried in memory as unmitigated successes, sometimes involving significant emotional experiences that had an existential impact on others."

      Wow.

      So here is an example of one such experience. In 2010, Daniel wrote what he thought was his resignation letter to our gaming community. I'll never forget reading it. It was full of painful critiques supported by examples for why our community could be so much more than it was. This letter struck me to my core because as I read it, I knew everything he was expressing was true. I knew that I had been wrong in not investing more time and energy into the truths he revealed through his experience. As the community's Sr. leader, I went through exactly what Gary described above. I also watched others experience the same.

      Turns out, Daniel's resignation letter was really a vision statement about our future. Immediately after reading his letter I contacted him and explained why he mustn't leave, that there was great work to be done. As a result of his letter and the new relationship that would follow, me self and my leadership style (games and RL) and the character and leadership style of our gaming community changed. We have never been the same since. Today, this experience marks a definitive turning point in our community's evolution. Transcendence: http://youtu.be/aFZxm09G87E
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        Feb 22 2014: I have heard testimonials like this many times but I understand that it always takes extraordinary courage. Transcendence indeed! This kind of disclosure, witnessing really, is the path to leadership. The people who have shared such stories with me are sought out as elite advisers on leadership, from the Army Special Operations community to Harvard Business School. Welcome to the surprising, perhaps shocking, world of online game communities.

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