Designed for Play: A Case Study of Uses and Gratifications as Design Elements in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games
Presented to the Faculty of Liberty University School of Communication Studies
In partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of the Arts in Communication Studies
By Timothy P. Gibson, Jr. Fall 2008
Dedication Therefore, since weare surrounded by such a crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. -- Hebrews 12:1 (New Living Translation) My thesis is like the race mentioned in the verse above so let it be dedicated to those who ran this race with me. First, the facultylisted on the title page who endured reading this during the summer while I had an extended stay at Liberty University. It’s also dedicated to those who endured that extended lap with me and understand the value of a job finished even if it is in August opposed to May. Also, I cannot leave out my family and friends, especially my parents who always taught me that it’s not whether I win or lose inthe race, but that I finish the course set before me. Finally and most importantly, let it be a dedication to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who allowed me to finish this race. May all who reads this thesis know that God reveals minor truths in all things including academic writings such as the one presented here. -Timothy P. Gibson, Jr., August 2008
Gibson iii Abstract: The World of Warcraftis a paid electronic experience known as a Massively Online Role Playing Game. Since its creation, this video game has attracted over ten million subscribers. A broad question asked why this massive amount of people would join this online environment. The researcher proposed that developers of the game designed certain uses and gratifications into the online environment and that these elementscould be observed through a participant observation methodology. Four uses and gratifications were singled out for observation including interactivity, asynchroniety, demassification, and community. The work reports the observations of the uses and gratifications through the eyes of the researcher within the game’s environment. It also discusses the possibility of something deeper and darker that mayattract the player to the game. Finally, it lays the foundation for future researchers to explore these observations in future studies.
Gibson iv Table of Contents Page Chapter 1: Introduction Welcome to the World of Warcraft History of Warcraft Chapter 2: Literature Review Video Game Theory On-screen and Off-screen Space The Avatar The Narrative Uses and Gratification on the InternetInteractivity Demassification Asynchroniety Community Chapter 3: Methodology Chapter 4: Findings Session 1: Character Creation Session 2-7: Beginning the Journey Session 8: Observing Conversation Session 9-11: Group Questing Session 12: Battlefield Session 13-14: Instances 16 22 6 1
Gibson v Session 15: Talent Tree Session 16: Character Info Session 17: Reputation Session 18: Controls Session 19-21:Advanced Questing Session 22-30: Message Boards Findings Conclusion Chapter 5: Discussion Uses and Gratifications Interactivity Asynchroniety Demassification Community Other Observations and Criticisms Interdependency of Uses and Gratifications Violence and Mysticism Future Studies Works Cited Appendix: World of Warcraft Slang Glossary 67 69 57
Gibson 1 I. Introduction Welcome to the World ofWarcraft Nine million. The initial case study began by looking at a community that was nine million strong. Since the initial proposal of this study in October 2007, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game or MMORPG of the World of Warcraft increased to ten million subscribers. This means that the rapid growth of this online community continues to expand at a near record rate. Why does...
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