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: Fritzie asks "I imagine there is a significant literature about the building of leadership and collaborative skills through participation in team sports and communities attached to team sports."

    Yes, there is a large literature in sports psychology, sports sociology, and pedagogical kinesiology that addresses this (often at cross purposes). The results are mixed. Sport certainly can have prosocial effects but it also can have antisocial effects, in the latter case especially for those who are excluded for one reason or another (e.g., real-world dominance hierarchies) or in the consequences of physical violence in occasional situations when it is poorly regulated in sports such as football, soccer, rugby, basketball, hockey, boxing, wrestling. And, of course, the sport communities that are accessible to people at any age, and in which one can have legitimate peripheral participation, are much more limited than in online social games.

    Dyson, B., Griffin, L. L., & Hastie, P. (2004). Sport education, tactical games, and cooperative learning: Theoretical and pedagogical considerations. Quest, 56(2), 226-240.

    Kirk, D. (2006). Sport Education, Critical Pedagogy, and Learning Theory: Toward an Intrinsic Justification for Physical Education and Youth Sport. Quest, 58(2), 255-264.

    Rink, J. E., French, K. E., & Tjeerdsma, B. L. (1996). Foundations for the learning and instruction of sport and games. Journal of teaching in Physical Education, 15, 399-417.

    Coakley, J. (2011). Youth Sports What Counts as “Positive Development?”. Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 35(3), 306-324.

    Coakley, J. J., & Pike, E. (1998). Sport in society: Issues and controversies (pp. 438-445). Boston, MA: Irwin/McGraw-Hill.

    Eccles, J. S., Barber, B. L., Stone, M., & Hunt, J. (2003). Extracurricular activities and adolescent development. Journal of social issues, 59(4), 865-889.

    Mahoney, J. L., Larson, R. W., Eccles, J. S., & Lord, H. (2005). Organized activities as developmental contexts for ch
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      Feb 17 2014: "Sport certainly can have prosocial effects but it also can have antisocial effects." This is not surprising. I expect the same will be true of online games, though the element of possible physical injury will not be present.
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        Feb 17 2014: As a general statement, yes it isn't surprising. There are insights and nuances in that body of work, however, that make it worthwhile even for nonscientists (practitioners) who have an abundance of experience with activities that are the subject of investigation. That is a whole other conversation.

        In this conversation, we would like to understand the factors that influence prosocial outcomes vs antisocial outcomes, specifically in inter-personal interactions in online games. There probably is some transfer from lessons learned in sport science. My guess is that ethnographic research is where the connections are most useful. I believe we need to get into deeply personal levels of meaning and engagement with others to understand even what the ethnographic research should look like. Philosophy can help here.

        Darwall, S. L. (2006). The second-person standpoint: Morality, respect, and accountability. Harvard University Press.
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        Feb 17 2014: My review of Darwall's book: "Call the second-person standpoint the perspective you and I take up when we make and acknowledge claims on one another's conduct and will... whether explicit and voiced... or only implicit and felt... the I-you-me structure of reciprocal address runs throughout thought and speech from the second-person point of view." (Darwall, 2006, p. 3)

        I would merely add that the nuanced differences between this project and other philosophical arguments that are highlighted throughout this book can be viewed in quite a different light by considering shared experience of persons that is grounded in an intersubjectively verifiable reality. This is shared reality in which persons are meaningfully engaged together over time. It is a common ground in which their respective conduct and will is constrained, and reciprocally interdependent, in ways that are observable. It is a source of inescapable accountability that is not speculative and not authentically negotiable.

        Whether or not there is explicit reciprocity in communication about a shared experience, collaborative reflection should be approached with the assumption of reciprocity. The "authority" or momentary "standing" that is assumed and acknowledged in the second-person perspective is the privilege of a different perspective that is inaccessible to the addressee, even if only momentarily. More broadly, given the assumptions of crystallization, all parties in collaborative reflection can have authority at the same time albeit different kinds of authority deriving from complementary perspectives (i.e., propositions that are not logically inconsistent). From a realist perspective, such complementarity is verifiable over time in a shared experience.

        I believe the existential philosophy of Martin Buber also can be instructive here:

        Buber, M. (1958). The I-thou theme, contemporary psychotherapy, and psychodrama. Pastoral Psychology, 9(5), 57-58.
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      Feb 22 2014: For me, being apart of a competitive gaming clan is the same as being on a sports team. I like to use football as the analogy for our genre of choice, tactical team-based shooters. You have ownership or clan founder(s), general management or the clan's Sr. leadership, the coaching staff or sergeants, the QB or in-game team leader, the lineman or perimeter--mobile or stationary, the RB's or offensive rushers, the WR or snipers and special teams or your explosive ordinance carriers.

      At the very least, prosocial behavior among teammates is required to be competitive.
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        Feb 22 2014: In today's world, concurrent participation in gamer communities and sport communities is the rule rather than the exception. This doesn't mean there are interactions but I would be quite surprised if there aren't any.

        It would be nice if we could get some gamers to contribute stories about the way online game communities influence one's attitude toward sports, both teammates and competitors, their behavior toward these others (e.g., the second-person standpoint to which I referred earlier), and the success the outcomes they experienced in sports.

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