MMORPG Roles, Civic Participation and Leadership Among Generation Y

MMORPG Roles, Civic Participation and Leadership Among Generation Y

Richard Hartshorne (University of Central Florida, USA), Phillip J. VanFossen (Purdue University, USA) and Adam Friedman (Wake Forest University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jgcms.2012010103


The notion of an ‘effective citizen’ is very complex and has very different meanings for varying individuals. However, the development of an effective citizenry is critical for a democratic society to thrive. One potential method of developing an effective citizenry is through the use of MMORPGs in civic education. In this paper, the authors report the results of a survey of the civic engagement and civic participation of college student players of the massively multi-player online role playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft (WoW). Findings indicate that respondents reported being more civically engaged than other segments of the population within the same age-range. Lastly, the authors explore the implications of the results and the potential of MMORPGs for developing an effective citizenry.
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Mmorpgs And Civic Engagement

The development of both civic leadership and engagement among its citizens is a central necessity for any government to flourish: it is critical to discern the characteristics of effective leaders, as well as the factors that lead to civic engagement. As previously noted, one approach that holds potential for fostering the development of civic leaders and promoting civic engagement is through the use of MMORPGs. As MMORPGs become a more popular form of digital entertainment, it is important to examine their potential usefulness in facilitating ‘digital natives’’ transition to the active citizens of tomorrow.

As their name suggests, MMORPGs are played by a large number of people, from all around the world. Hill (2010) notes that although precise figures are difficult to obtain, it is nevertheless estimated that over 15 million people are involved in these games, with a large percentage of the market share (10 million people), participating in World of Warcraft©. For an individual to participate in a MMORPG, s/he must assume a fictional character (known as an avatar), and as such, interact with other avatars. However, it is important to note that an avatar retains its characteristics during subsequent playing sessions.With the rise in popularity of MMORPGs, a new area of research has begun to emerge.

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