MMOG Guild Leaders as a Com/Dev Resource (with a preamble on cognition in MMOGs) Constance A. Steinkuehler University of Wisconsin–Madison
Traditional Cognitive Science Study of philosophical questions using scientific methods Posits a level of analysis wholly separate from the biological or neurological Mind-as-computer as dominant metaphor Preoccupation with mental representation Preoccupation with computer models of cognition Deliberate decision to de-emphasize certain factors that may be important but complicate things context tools / artifacts language body culture / history affect
Humans vs. Computers HumanComputer Input devicesenseskeyboard central processing unitworking memoryCPU long-term storage mediumLTMdisk output deviceeffectorspaper/screen Similarities HumanComputer size of WM/CPU 5 bits800,000,000 bits size of LTM 1,000,000,000 bits* unlimited speed of access w/in WM.025 sec.000000015 sec speed of access to LTM.200 sec.020 sec Differences
Humans vs. Computers HumanComputer preferred storage mode analog; time-oriented digital; list oriented retention of informationgradedall-or-none efficiency (bits/sec)lowhigh capacity dependent on experience independent of experience retrieval: * relative to context * relative to previous retrievals very dependent dependent independent purpose general purpose; open set of functions special or general purpose; closed set of functions Cognition is context, not cognition in context
Uhoh… need new model Human dependency on context allows for learning & adaptation to take place The ‘problems’ with memory allow us to think of novel solutions to problems Information is indifferent to meaning Hence… emphasis speciously shifted from construction of meaning to processing of information Whoops… what got left out matters context – memory, processing context-dependent tools / artifacts – extended cognition language – inherently social semiotic system body – embodiment theory, metaphors culture / history – mind is inherently social affect – reason breaks down without of emotion
Distributed Cognition Cognition is (inter)action in the social & material world Cognition is “a complex social phenomenon… distributed — stretched over, not divided among — mind, body, activity and culturally organized settings (which include other actors)” (Lave, 1988) Unit of analysis = intact activity systems… Individual person Social relationships Physical and temporal contexts Symbolic & material resources Historical change Activity Systems as Discourses – ways we humans integrate language with non-languages stuff so as to enact & recognize different identities & activities, give the world certain meanings, make certain sorts of meaningful connections in our experience, etc. (Gee)
Negotiation of Meaning Where meaning is negotiated…
Within comm.of practice Within / across emergent communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991)
Apprenticeship & Enculturation With rich systems of peer apprenticeship & enculturation.
Theoretical perspective Socially / materially distributed cognition Discourse theory (Gee,1999) Research Questions What are the cognitive practices of MMOGaming? What does it mean to be literate in this activity space? How does one become a member of this community? What import does participation have for the situated (on- and off-screen) identities of its members? Context: Lineage I & II (swg, eq) Method: Virtual Cognitive Ethnography Overview of Research
Primary Data Sources Participant Observations (video/audio data) Ethnographic Fieldnotes Individual Case Studies Interviews with Informants Collection of Community Documents Fieldwork To Date Princess Adeleide, LegendsOfAden Blood Pledge Lineage I: 19 months, ~10-50hrs/week Lineage II: 2 months, ~10-50hrs/week 30+ formal/informal informants Employ cognitive methodologies Virtual Cognitive Ethnography
e.g. pledge hunt Directed Graph Articulates the temporal interconnections among categories of talk/activities Interpersonal talk Virtual material activity Personal state change
Repertory Grid Interviews Knowledge Elicitation Phase 1.Elicit elements 2.Present elements in random triads in order to elicit dimensions of similarity/difference Rating Grid Phase
Discourse Analysis afk g2g too ef ot regen no poms Away from keys got to go toElven Forest toregeneratenomana pots Request (Interpersonal) Construal of events (Ideational) Account (Interpersonal) Displays community standing as ‘beta vet’ Acknowledges the intact activity structure Coordinates the other participants who remain I have to go to the Eleven Forest to regenerate. I’m out of mana potions. Just a sec. Shared values & activities Identity
What the devil does this have to do with guild leaders?!
Reconceptualizing the Princess Guild leaders are a hybrid between developers & normal gamers IF MMOGs 20% designed material world 80% emergent social world THEN guild leaders are crucial to what constitutes the very nature of gameplay Hubs in a social network, structure that 80% Core role in enculturation into game Cognitively complex transmedia gameplay Often function w/little designed-in support Tools to support web content & metagaming Access to data on members, participation patterns Tools for generating narrative/activity content
Final Note on the Fear of User Generated Content… “A big hurdle is going to be getting the large companies to surrender their fear of user-generated content. Right now, everyone is terrified of it for legal reasons and for customer support reasons. But the entire premise of the Internet is distributed, user-generated content. I see it as inevitable that this become the dominant form of online world. A big question, though, is how one makes money off of it. 90% of everything is crap…” – Raph Koster MMOG communities are hermeneutic communities, just like other fandoms Purported problem: profit & quality control Deeper problem: who is going to own the semiotic raw goods out of which culture is made? (ouch)
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