Can Online Games Create a Sense of Community?
Massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) are increasingly popular, with games such as world of warcraft attracting 10 millions subscribers.
Previous research has considered social aspects of MMOGs such as world of warcraft and has found social relationships can be created within these games, such as social support.
New research aimed to examine if MMOGs are able to create a sense of community amongst its players: (O’Connor et al, 2015)
The present study used qualitative semi-structured interviews with 22 Australian World of Warcraft (WoW) players to examine their experiences of MMOG-based social relationships.
The researchers from the Queensland University of Technology were able to identify several particular themes from the interviews, firstly:
The present study has confirmed previous quantitative findings that suggested that MMOG players experience an MMOG-based PSOC. The present qualitative research revealed that this sense of community is based on the common ground of WoW, with players from all walks of life being able to meet (both online and offline) and bond over the game.
For all participants, other guild members provided the majority of the advice about offline issues and emotional support. This finding indicates the importance that guilds play in the social landscape of MMOGs.
In conclusion the researchers found that players of MMOGs created strong social bonds that endured offline as well and online and were present outside of a purely gaming situation.
This study confirms that MMOG players form communities around and within their games. Further, the social connections in WoW form part of the appeal of MMOGs and contribute to the longevity of these games.
As well as providing social and emotional support this is clearly an advantage for the game manufacturers.