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Leet noobs: Expertise and collaboration in a World of Warcraft player group as distributed sociomaterial practice Mark Chen University of

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Presentation on theme: "Leet noobs: Expertise and collaboration in a World of Warcraft player group as distributed sociomaterial practice Mark Chen University of"— Presentation transcript:

1 Leet noobs: Expertise and collaboration in a World of Warcraft player group as distributed sociomaterial practice Mark Chen University of This work is funded by the National Science Foundation through the Science of Learning Center program under grant SBE

2 Some game play

3 World of Warcraft  MMOG  6 million subscribers in 2006

4 World of Warcraft  MMOG  6 million subscribers in 2006  Fantasy with races / classes

5 World of Warcraft  MMOG  6 million subscribers in 2006  Fantasy with races / classes  Complete quests, kill monsters for loot and XP

6 Raiding  Large group joint activity  Highly coordinated  Specialized roles  Organization and leadership  Molten Core

7 Leadership tasks required for raiding Also see Reeves & Read, 2009

8 Ethnographic methods (Steinkuehler, 2004)  Pool of 60 regular players, 40 per session  Met 2-3 times a week for 10 mos (11/05-8/06), 4-5 hrs each time  Larger ethnography has over 1000 hrs of chat data  ~100 hrs of video + select posts on web forums  Disciplined perception (Stevens & Hall, 1998) Remember, ss target will change at Domo, but until then, your rezzer is to be ssed at all times. Remember, who you give soulstones to will change when we encounter Majordomo Executus, but, until then, the priest or shaman who you’ve been assigned to should have your soulstone at all times. a magic item that warlocks can give to others so that they can come back to life if they are killed priests and shaman can bring others back to life (resurrect) it’s important to give rezzers the ability to come back to life so they can rez the rest of the raid group

9 Theorizing the practice Push-pull relationship of objects in a network of activity… – Actor-Network Theory (Latour, 2005) – Distributed Cognition (Hutchins, 1995) – Mangle (Pickering, 1993; Steinkuehler 2006) – Assemblage (Deleuze & Guitarri, 1987; Taylor, 2006) – Arrangement (Stevens, Satwicz, & McCarthy, 2009) – Object-Oriented Ontology (Bogost, 2006, 2009) – Roles and responsibilities constantly renegotiated, redistributed, and reconfigured to adapt to local settings

10 Analyses 1. Expertise as sociomaterial practice 2. Communication, coordination, and camaraderie 3. A new addon and its effect on raiding

11 Expertise in game mechanics?

12

13 unit frames showing health and status of raid members my health and status enemy health and status cooldown timers for temporary effects threat meter enemy debuffs ability buttons more ability buttons tank targets chat window various bits of info to keep track of temporary bonuses or impairments (buffs and debuffs) minimap and addon buttons streaming combat text name and health of enemy the jumble in the middle is the actual in-game fight

14 Expertise as sociomaterial practice  Emergent through push-pull of constraints-workarounds  Limited by access to the right social networks

15

16 World of Warcraft wiki

17  Regular chat channels and specialized ones by character role  say  whisper  party  raid  healsting  madtankin  rottentranq  madsheep  soulburn  madrogues Communication, coordination, and camaraderie

18  Hierarchical and interwoven Communication, coordination, and camaraderie 19:30: : [2. madrogues] Rebecca: good... poison up... assist wei -'good' refers to the fact that no Rogues said they have not done this fight. Even so, Rebecca clarifies our role—use poisons on our weapons and focus-fire on Wei's target. 19:30: : [5. madtankin] William: where is wallace tonight? -madtankin channel for the Warriors. wallace is a character who usually comes to our raids. 19:30: : [Raid] Maxwell: Henry peels to Marcie -role assignment 19:30: : [3. healsting] Drusella: *runs around like crazy people* -Druids are getting a little silly now... 19:30: : [3. healsting] Sven: We could... DPS shaman, Holy Nova priests? -more suggestions on turning certain healers into damage dealers instead 19:30: : [5. madtankin] Wallace: I didn't make it in time. Rawr! -Wallace is still subscribed to the madtankin channel even though he is not part of the raid. These custom chat channels exist independently from any other channels in the game. 19:30: : To Lori: May I have a healthstone pretty please? -Healthstones made by different Warlocks sometimes have different amounts of healing they can do (depending on how a player has 'specced' the character) which means they can be stored in one's inventory at the same time. In this case, I know Larry and Lori create different types of healthstones, so I've requested one from each. 19:30: : [Raid] Maxwell: Horace peels to Mary -role assignment 19:30: : [4. soulburn] Lori: Les-for this fight you will be ssing Derek. -what to do with that one soulstone that Lester has available

19  Trust/performance evidenced by joviality, level of chat Communication, coordination, and camaraderie

20 I love our raid. I know we are all going to get burned out at times and frustrated and upset and disagree with one another. It is part of being human. We are like brothers and sisters really. Stuff like this is going to happen.  Meltdown prevented by realignment / reiteration of group values Communication, coordination, and camaraderie

21 Fight continued  Look at coordination and use of addons

22 A new addon and its effect on raiding  Tripartite roles: tank, healer, DPS  Threat and aggro  KTM = no longer keeping it in our heads  Yet KTM only used temporarily in Rags fight  KTM used on multiple scales of time and actor networks / mangles (Latour, 2005; Pickering, 1993; Steinkuehler, 2006)

23 Tripartite roles: tank, healer, DPS rogue (DPS) warrior (tank) priest (healer) mage (DPS) pew pew! Yeah, hit me! SS, SS, Eviscerate! Has the most threat and monster “aggro”

24 Threat and aggro Time 1 PlayerAbility ActivatedThreat Generated (hypothetical) Existing Threat Total Threat (hypothetical) Wendy (tank)Sunder Rand (DPS)Sinister Strike Shaun (healer)L. Healing Wave Mandy (DPS)Frostbolt5000 Time 2 PlayerAbility ActivatedThreat Generated (hypothetical) Existing Threat Total Threat (hypothetical) Wendy (tank)Sunder Rand (DPS)Sinister Strike Shaun (healer)L. Healing Wave Mandy (DPS)Frostbolt

25 KTM (KLH Threat Meter)

26

27 Knockback Rogues getting aggro

28 this is a steady high dps fight, no bursting, bursting will get you aggro, in my experiance, anything over 1000 gets rags to say hi to ya unless you are feint everytime its up, and a split second after your burst. I got aggro on that one. Not sure how, was using the same technique as last time. so, I have threatmeter on... noticed I wasnt very high up and did a cold blood evis just fine. I strongly suggest you get the mod... so you can judge how good you are on aggro i hit him once. that made no sense Roger, they [the tanks] may have been out of position for just a second which is enough for anyone else to get aggro who is in melee range.

29 KTM configured to help diagnose aggro problems Enrolled in a temporary rather than designed role

30 Conclusions Becoming expert depended on access to expert groups and expert practice (Collins & Evans, 2007) Not all players could gain access Group success depended on coordinated action and trust in others to play their roles (Hutchins, 1995) Disruptions in the network required renegotiation of roles; failure required reconfiguration (Latour, 2005)

31 Take-aways Cognitive frameworks for expertise don’t account for emergent situated practice that depend on available sociomaterial resources. New actors to a network require a redistribution of roles and responsibilities and is situated in local practice (e.g., KTM)

32 Final look at video


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