Collective Solitude and Social Networks in World of Warcraft

Collective Solitude and Social Networks in World of Warcraft

Nicolas Ducheneaut (Palo Alto Research Center, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-104-9.ch005
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This chapter investigates the nature and structure of social networks formed between the players of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), an incredibly popular form of Internet-based entertainment attracting millions of subscribers. To do so, we use data collected about the behavior of more than 300,000 characters in World of Warcraft (the most popular MMOG in America). We show that these social networks are often sparse and that most players spend time in the game experiencing a form of “collective solitude”: they play surrounded by, but not necessarily with, other players. We also show that the most successful player groups are analogous to the organic, team-based forms of organization that are prevalent in today’s workplace. Based on these findings, we discuss the relationship between online social networks and “real-world” behavior in organizations in more depth.

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