Raiding Research Online

Exploring and mapping the MMO raiding culture
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Archive for September, 2011

Linguistic diversity or exclusivity in raiding guilds?

September 16, 2011 By: Ladan Category: language, raiding culture

I wrote a piece on my Method blog today about this interesting trend (or is it a trend?) toward success in raiding among linguistically exclusive (as in groups on an English language server setting up guilds that use another language as their primary language) raiding guilds. Is there such a trend? I am not entirely convinced. Yes we have a lot of server/language variety and in the case of certain national groups (the Finnish raiders most notably), there may be a case to make for success being partly a result of a combination of linguistic exclusivity and performance. But that may just be the predilection of specific groups and not really a growing trend or change. After all, we still have the majority of high-performing raiding guilds being English-language primary guilds. Anyway I had some fun digging through the numbers, so I hope you will enjoy the read:

http://www.methodwow.com/board/entry.php?19-All-or-nothing…-the-cultural-diversity-%28or-lack-thereof%29-of-raiding-guilds

Meanwhile to the left of me here are our polls on the drinks and food we may or may not consume during the raid. I was not prepared for the 53% response with water! We’re clearly more prone to cold drinks over hot and non-alcoholic to alcoholic. As far as eating goes, I was taken a bit by surprise at the fact that a fairly high percentage (25%) eat nothing during a raid, though the “light snack” option as the highest result (29%) is not entirely unsurprising. A bowl of cereal has gotten me through many a raid night! But I guess eating can be a distraction, and I have found myself far too focused on what’s going on on the screen to even eat the things I may have handy to nibble on. Do go to my forum thread on the Paragon site to post any food/drink anecdotes. So far people are being very shy about it!

New poll and a long-overdue raid-themed musical medley!

September 12, 2011 By: Ladan Category: Polls, raid-themed musical medley, raider, Uncategorized

So what do you eat while you raid? And what about drink? I’ve created two polls in anticipation of an even bigger–and fun–”research” project I’ve got in the works with the folks over at DREAM Paragon. Participate in the poll now and read up the results and participate in some other fun things starting in the next day or two! It promises to be appetising… or at least  I  hope it won’t give you a dodgy tummy…

And then I realised I’ve not done a raid-themed musical medley in ages. I’ve picked Elbow because I love them and there are some funny song titles that made me think about some of the quirky social outcomes and costs associated with the joys and perils of raiding.

First we have Grounds for Divorce. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told–when random non-gaming people discover I’m researching World of Warcraft–about a divorce or near-divorce caused by playing World of Warcraft. And the most frequent culprit is the “Oh he [sorry guys, it's usually a he] wouldn’t get up from the damn computer when she needed to get the kids to bed and she gave him an ultimatum:  it’s us or the game.” Luckily most will choose their families over the game, but there have been some cases where the game gets identified (whether fairly or not) as the cause of marital or relationship problems and, sadly, its demise. Saying that WoW is the sole cause of a relationship failing is a problematic notion, but I think one can easily see how it might have been a contributing factor.

Next we have Lippy Kids. Ahh, those know-it-all kids in a PUG or on vent or TS during a raid; the ones who seem prone to losing their cool or posturing a bit too much. They tend to be afflicted with a bad case of superiority. Of course sometimes it’s warranted and their gaming skill and ability far exceeds the more relaxed raiding group they’ve found themselves entrenched with–and due to their youthful impatience, sticking it out with less able groups tends to bring out the Lippy in them. But other times they may be infected by that misguided sense of self-assurance about their skills that is neither warranted or demonstrated. Either which way, these misguided Lippy Kids tend to have the least patience for failure and the lowest capacity for self-awareness of their own inability to perform. I’d say they often have a higher rate of /gkicks and vote kicks, too. Ahh to be young and Lippy…

And to round up our trio, here we have The Bones of You. Yes, your bones. Piles of them. You’ve wiped 62 times tonight, haven’t you? And your bones lay there as a stark reminder of your repeated failure. Maybe if you plan it carefully enough you can re-die in the exact same spot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNbLvtgc1Is&feature=fvsr

And finally, because I just love this song so much, here is Great Expectations. :)

An update of sorts: What’s going on with Ladan’s research these days?

September 08, 2011 By: Ladan Category: raiding research

Sorry about the long delay in posts. I’ve been very busy with my PhD,  was away doing an (exciting!) internship, and gave a paper at an academic conference. So getting time to complete and put this post up just seemed to be impossible. But I’m back in lovely Durham now and am stealing some moments to finish this and put it up.

So I write a lot about a lot of things, mostly dictated by my own whims (isn’t that the bloggers prerogative?) but also guided by specific events in the raiding community. I realised recently when I was trying to figure out a new blog post topic that it’s been ages since I wrote an actual update on what I’ve been up to and where my research is going. In fact, the other day on IRC I was even asked what has been surprising me in my research so far (great question, fen :) )! So let me try and capture a few details on how things are going.

First of all, let me give a bit of background on what is involved in getting a PhD. For those of you who are sane enough to have avoided the perils of advanced research and education, you may have remained blissfully unaware of what the completion process to get a doctorate is like. You may only know that we cheekily expect to be called ‘Doctor’ at the end (but don’t ask me to operate on you or prescribe drugs) and, if we opt to go the academic route, we aspire to being called Lecturer or Professor or some such lofty title. Like many elements of many educational systems across the globe, the process to complete and be awarded a PhD do differ from country to country. I’d say the UK is not particularly different from the rest of the world, but some aspects may seem different as compared to, say, the United States. For one, our PhD is almost entirely ‘by research’. The expectation in the British system of doctoral education is essentially that the individual should be capable (with input and mentoring from a number of academic supervisors–these are lecturers or professors in your given department with expert input into your area of research) of designing an original research project, completing fieldwork (or labwork), and writing a lengthy thesis to present the findings and conclusions from the research. This work will comprise the bulk of the PhD and the merit of the work (including the contribution to the ‘field of research’) is often based around the published PhD thesis. These aren’t short pieces of work. My PhD will be 100,000 words, or about 300 pages long.

So, as you can imagine, I’m writing. A lot. I’ve got about 9 chapters in total and 4 are done so far.

And what am I writing about? Well, lots of things, but there is a general, overall theme that I’m looking at and I’m using certain techniques to help me do this. I’ve been doing what’s called an ethnography–which is a kind of sociological study of a group of people who are linked together for social, cultural, or other reasons–of the raiding community, looking at how raiders function and how they use the game space and environment. I am also looking at how raiders enact specific issues that seem to be particularly important to them: performance, coordination, and competition.

Why these particular issues? Well, I would say that certain qualities distinguish raiders from other types of gamers. For example, it’s possible that some things are shared in common across the entire spectrum of gaming–like curiosity, imagination, problem-solving, immersion–but other qualities might set certain types of gamers apart. In the case of raiders, I have observed certain recurring concepts that stand out in our community such as our orientation toward how we perform, how we compete, and how we work in teams. While many other factors do play into the raiding experience, I’d say this particular combination is compelling in its consistent importance to the raider experience and to the success of the raid itself. We are also defined largely by our outcomes and by our process.

My current focus is on competition. I’ve been following how this is experienced by raiders at all levels of play–from the most casual raider to the most competitive. Despite how much time or skill we have for raiding, I would say one consistent idea keeps popping up when we raid and compete: we want to do as well as we can and we like the feeling of a “win”, whether that’s among the group we’re raiding with (topping dps meters, causing the least wipes, healing the most, etc) or whether that’s against the other top guilds vying for world first. Competition permeates how we’ve even structured the peripheral elements of our community: our focus on tracking sites to check our guild’s ranking, our love of theorycrafting, our tendency to jovially use ranking on the damage meters as a way to gauge “superiority” within the group.

Of course this is most obviously noticeable when we look at the top raiding guilds and their “race” for world first. All serious guilds want to do well and the guilds that have put achieving a world first as their top priority will be hyperaware of their own progress in relation to the other top guilds. Their competition is also followed closely by other interested raiders.

Does this competition translate to other types of raiding guilds? I’d say so. Maybe they aren’t as concerned about their global rankings (though I’d suggest that most serious guilds probably do check their global rankings at least somewhat regularly) but they might look at their server rankings, their own personal bests, or they might look at their individual performance within the group. We have, based on Blizzard’s raiding achievements and community-created tracking sites, a clear way that we tap into the competitive aspect of our raiding community. And I think the basic idea of “besting” the boss before it bests us relates to a kind of competitive vibe that permeates everything we do. It’s hard coded into what being a raider is.

So that’s an update on where I’m at right now. The writing is going quite well so far and I’ll post more about what I’ve produced once the chapter is done.