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 17 2014: Fritzie asked an interesting question that some might have missed because it was in a reply to a reply to an earilier comment. Here it is:

    "There are forums that are basically about chat in which people may see a forum as support for reflections on their lives or the world around them. There are DIY forums in which people use the forum for technical support on individual projects. There are forums that are more wiki-like in which people who are working together exchange ideas and information pertinent to their common undertaking, like a wiki for docents at a particular museum. There are venues like Wetcanvas for artists, which are a hybrid of supporting individuals in individual projects, loosely connected group projects, chat about ideas, and discourse about matters of the day, with participants participating in some aspects but not others. Why would a gamers forum offer different opportunity to develop the skills that interest you than these other types?"

    I replied in the string where Fritzie's reply appeared. Basically, I emphasized the number of people involved in online social games and the amount of time they devote to online gameplay rather than what may be unique about games. I will leave the latter issue to gamers for their comments. Note, however, I suspect the answers will relate to attributes on which Jane McGonigal and others have expounded, such as "blissful productivity, urgent optimism, epic meaning, and weaving a tight social fabric." Typically these attributes are addressed in terms of game mechanics. It would be edifying to read what gamers have to say about these attributes in terms of the community interactions that spontaneously emerge around games.
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      Feb 22 2014: Fritzie wrote: "There are forums that are basically about chat in which people may see a forum as support for reflections on their lives or the world around them. There are DIY forums in which people use the forum for technical support on individual projects. There are forums that are more wiki-like in which people who are working together exchange ideas and information pertinent to their common undertaking, like a wiki for docents at a particular museum. There are venues like Wetcanvas for artists, which are a hybrid of supporting individuals in individual projects, loosely connected group projects, chat about ideas, and discourse about matters of the day, with participants participating in some aspects but not others. Why would a gamers forum offer different opportunity to develop the skills that interest you than these other types?"

      An organized gaming community's fora can be all of the things you mentioned above Fritzie and often is. But the fora is really just the central hub of community communication. Think head of an octopus. Connected to that head are tentacles or communication cables streaming behind the scenes via communication networks such as the PlayStation Network, Skype, Google docs, FB, direct dial, etc. My community has an infrastructure which supports each of the things you quoted above for various strategic and social reasons.

      One of the awesome benefits of being apart of an organized gaming community supporting members in various time zones around the world, is that I can tap into any one of our communication cables and get an almost immediate response from someone I know--twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. No matter the idea or problem I'm working on, whether it is focused in, around, or outside of gameplay one of my comrades is ALWAYS there to hear me and in a lot of cases, teach me something valuable I didn't know.

      UBUNTU
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        Feb 22 2014: Thank you for this contribution, Justin. I think one of the subtle important aspects of gaming community, unlike "connections" many people have with "friends" spread widely across time zones, is that you are *engaged* with your mates in a collective activity in which there is the opportunity to learn deeply about their manner and back stories. This is a very different notion of connection, existential versus merely demographic, meaningful rather than superficial.

        Returning to the genre of first-person shooter games, counter-intuitively, it is my opinion that the rapid decision-making in public view over and over leads to a much more authentic persona, the "raw person" to which Daniel Christensen referred. A more authentic persona enables more authentic relationships, and authentic relationships are the foundation for trustworthy interactions and reciprocal influence for which one is inescapably accountable.

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