Virtual community can be defined as “a group of people who may or may not meet one another face-to-face and who exchange words and ideas through the mediation of computer bulletin boards and networks” (Rheingold, 1993, p. 1). With the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies such as listservs, bulletin boards, discussion forums, and chat rooms, the time zone differences become less critical and geographical distance and limitations diminish.
Key Terms in this Chapter
EverQuest (EQ): The world’s largest premier three-dimensional (3D) massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). It is a game that attracts an estimated 400,000 players online each day from around the globe and, at peak times, more than 100,000 players will be playing EQ simultaneously.
Social Power: An essential concept that describes the process of constructing human relationships and the dynamics of their social behaviors.
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG): A genre of online computer role-playing games (RPGs) in which a large number of players interact with one another in a virtual world.
Case Study: Methods involve an in-depth, longitudinal examination of a single instance or event: a case. They provide a systematic way of looking at events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results. As a result, the researcher may gain a sharpened understanding of why the instance happened as it did and what might become important to look at more extensively in future research.
Virtual Community: Defined as a group of people who may or may not meet one another face-to-face, and who exchange words and ideas where people relate to one another by the use of a specific technology.
Computer Mediated Communication (CMC): Can be defined broadly as any form of data exchange across two or more networked computers. Those communications that occur via computer-mediated formats (i.e., instant messages, e-mails, chat rooms) between two or more individuals.
New Institutional Theory: Explains the ways in which action is structured and order made possible by shared systems of rules that both constrain the inclination and capacity of actors to optimize as well as privilege some groups whose interests are secured by prevailing rewards and sanctions.