Leadership Behaviors among Gamers and Student Leaders

Leadership Behaviors among Gamers and Student Leaders

Ho Wei Tshen (Clinical and Forensic Psychology Branch Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore) and Angeline Khoo (National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/ijcbpl.2014070102
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Abstract

This study explored the relationship between leadership in video games and in real-life. The effects of motivation of play, prosocial orientation, and the social context of play on leadership behavior were also investigated. A Game Leadership Behavior questionnaire was constructed to measure game leadership. Other measures included the Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire, the Motivation of Play questionnaire, Prosocial Orientation Questionnaire (POQ), and questions identifying the type of game play participants were involved in. A total of 321 students participated in the study. All participants held leadership positions in school. Findings showed that game leadership behavior was positively correlated with real-life leadership and emerged as a predictor of real-life leadership, together with prosocial behavior and social game motivation.
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Introduction

Society has been very much concerned with the repercussions of video gaming, particularly on our young people. Most of the studies have focused on the negative effects of video gaming, especially on its effects on aggression (e.g. Anderson, 2004, 2007; Anderson & Dill, 2000; Bartlett, Harris, & Baldassaro, 2006; Bryant & Davies, 2006). However, researchers have also found a myriad of positive effects of video games (for example, Durkin & Barber, 2002; Risenhuber, 2004; Lee & Peng, 2006).

Jackson et al. (2011) found that children who play more videogames tend to be more creative in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories. Game mastery and knowledge is gradually becoming an important part of adolescent subculture, forming part of their social capital, allowing them to gain peer approval, and influencing the nature of their subgroups (Raney, Smith & Baker, 2006). Even within video games, social skills are being learnt and practiced. Narvaez, et al. (2008) found that players who played helping games are more likely to describe the game characters in the story as having concern and empathy for others. The Pew researchers found that video games afforded adolescents with rich social interaction and civic learning opportunities where players helped each other, made decisions that affect the larger group, or debated moral, ethical or social issues (Lenhart et al. 2008). Although adolescents in the study reported encountering aggressive behavior in games, most of them also witnessed many prosocial behaviors, such as positive social skills, generosity and helpfulness, creative and task-motivated play, and self-regulation. In addition, they also develop social skills as a form of collateral learning as they interact with others within the game (Johnson, 2005, Anderson et al, 2010).

In Massively Multi-player Role-playing Games (or MMOs for short) like World of Warcraft, character advancement often necessitates increasing levels of collaboration with other players (Yee, 2006b). This is usually done through participating in a raiding group or guild, where teamwork is needed to defeat the strongest monsters. And where there are groups, leaders will emerge. A valuable area of gain is the development of social competencies, such as leadership and communication skills, as a by-product of game-related social interaction with other players. This of course begs the ultimate question of whether video games may be employed purposefully in the development of important social skills (in this case, leadership).

As there are not many studies on the relationship between video game playing and leadership, it is the purpose of this paper to explore the relationship between video game playing and leadership in both online and real-life contexts. Only video games played in a social context are studied in this paper. These would include both MMOs, and games that are played in multi-player “Co-op” modes. The first kind refers to games with huge virtual environments that support thousands of players at a time, all involved in completing quests, killing monsters, acquiring loot, and increasing their character levels, whilst socializing with each other and participating in communities within and outside the game. These include games such as World of Warcraft, Star Wars The Old Republic, and Guild Wars. The second kind refers to role-playing or strategy games which provide a specific multiplayer mode in which players – connected online or through the local area network - cooperate in teams to achieve specific goals within a limited game environment – hence the term Co-op Mode used in the game industry, and in this paper. These may include the multi-player modes of games like the Halo, Left 4 Dead and the Resident Evil series.

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