The Hierarchy of an Online Gaming Community: A Study of the Managerial Structure of Syndicate Gamers

The Hierarchy of an Online Gaming Community: A Study of the Managerial Structure of Syndicate Gamers

Gregory C. Mabry (Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, Fort Campbell, KY, USA) and Christopher Y. Frank (Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJVCSN.2016070102
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Abstract

Extensive research was conducted amongst a First Person Shooter (FPS) online video game community called Syndicate Gamers. The research focused on their effective use of an organizational structure and managerial hierarchy; implemented and executed via the Internet. The research included studying Syndicate Gamers' managerial hierarchy as well as the roles and responsibilities of those occupying positions of importance within the online gaming community. From January 2014 – May 2014, the researchers utilized the participant-observer model to gather information about the staff positions of Syndicate Gamers. The results of the study showed clear delineation of roles and responsibilities within the staff structure, which allowed efficient execution of duties and tasks. In the event a staff member was unable to perform a task due to absence, the tasks and responsibilities were temporarily transferred, to an organizational superior, peer, or subordinate until the primary staff member could resume his or her responsibilities full-time.
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Introduction

First Person Shooters and Counter-Strike

One of the most popular online video games in the world is Counter-Strike (FaceBook, 2012; Blogspot, 2008; Online Gamers Anonymous, 2006; Squidoo, 2011). Counter-Strike was described by its developer, Valve Corporation, as “the world's number 1 online action game” (Valve, Corporation, 2012). The game Counter-Strike is known as a first-person shooter. A first-person shooter, commonly called an FPS in the gaming arena, is a game in which the player sees the action on the screen as if he or she were looking through the eyes of the main character he or she is playing. As suspected, the shooter section of the term indicates that the majority of game play in these games will require the use of rifle or pistol type weaponry. While first person shooters are widely popular across multiple platforms, there are variations of this type of game, such as tactical first person shooters, where the gameplay is less run and gun and more strategy based via the shooter element (Rybka, 2012).

Although the game play for many first-person shooters is similar, the objectives for the players vary from game to game. This particular type of first-person shooter gives the player the task to:

Engage in an incredibly realistic brand of terrorist warfare in this wildly popular team-based game. Ally with teammates to complete strategic missions. Take out enemy sites. Rescue hostages. Your role affects your team's success. Your team's success affects your role. (Valve, Corporation, 2012)

Online Gaming Communities

For online video gamers, players might prefer an organized group to maximize their enjoyment of an online game (Lin, Sun, & Tinn, 2003). This community organization of online gamers is known as a clan (Microsoft Corporation, 2006). Although there are several registered clans in existence, the FPS clan is one of the most popular types of online gaming communities (Wagner, Borries, Walz, & Böttger, 2007).

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