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Food 4 Thought

As stated in my previous post I’m continuing to elaborate on findings from question four of our survey.There is one response I would like to elaborate on here.

There are a lot of difficulties with cultural norms, though. For example, certain behaviors in one culture may be considered normal, while in another culture they are frowned on or even offensive. It’s interesting to discover these things, and I think it encourages people to reflect on their own behavior in ways that they may not have if they were only exposed to their local culture. It also helps to unite the world. Cultures used to be isolated, and communication only happened through politics or business. As the internet becomes cheaper and more pervasive, it shortens the distance between one culture and another. It quite literally brings them closer together so that they can see that the people of another culture are really not very different from the people of their own. It no longer becomes possible to hold biases about those people once you’ve made friends with them.

This respondent raises the interesting issues of cultural norms and how there can be so many different interpretations of actions, words and inflections. This ties into the communication issue mentioned last time. While a translator system works for certain phrases, it doesn’t capture the proper inflections needed for certain phrases. These cultural norms are a large reason that many different games have developed in game communities for different cultures. However, games are discouraging this behavior and this is allowing for people to learn about these cultures, and learn how to act in these cultures. Like the poster says, games are facilitating ways for those who are not able to travel to these other countries to learn about cultures. It is unifying the world on the basis of the human race, unlike most people’s general separation and national loyalty. So while behavior can be a barrier, if the game encourages interaction enough, and there are understanding and accepting people willing to learn, behavior can turn into a learning tool, the entire game becomes a learning experience, much like specific educational games, except way more fun.

Spring Cleaning a Little Early

Well this past week certainly has felt like spring (although today has returned to more winter like conditions) and that has been the subject of most of WorldPlay’s work for the past week. After our winter hiatus for the holidays, we now have the large responsibility of cleaning up the Wiki that we have set up and making sure we have everything organized in order to proceed with our research this semester. We will also be returning to all of our forums that we posted in last semester (approx. 89 I believe) in order to close out our topics with a final mention of initial results and findings, as well as a thank you to the community for all of their assistance with the project. I’m continuing to analyze question 4 data and will have more of that for you on Monday, as well as an update on what other questions I will be analyzing. Over the weekend we will be determining which researchers will be analyzing specific questions from the survey in order to tackle more information in a shorter time period.

One other thing I would like to mention is that we may be modifying the survey with some new questions, and possibly making a few more close ended questions. If you have any suggestions, please toss a comment our way. Happy Friday.

Interactions… Good, Bad, or Ugly?

The assignment for everyone here at WorldPlay over the past week has been to conduct some in depth analysis on one of our survey questions. The question is as follows:

4. In general terms, how do you feel about the ability to interact with players from other countries in virtual worlds? Do you view this as a good thing? Do you view this as a bad thing? Does it matter to you at all?

Overwhelmingly I can draw a few conclusions from the responses. Number one almost all of our respondents believe that transnational interaction in online games is good. While there were a few people who were indifferent or against it, this was the majority opinion. Secondly, the largest benefit mentioned was the ability to meet new friends and learn about new cultures without ever needing to travel. Finally the largest problem mentioned, was the difficulty to communicate between cultures using chat.

The fact that online games are now enabling people to become friends from halfway around the world is a wonderful blessing, in many ways. Not only does it allow people with similar interests to connect (much like a social network) it also helps eliminate barriers and preconceptions between cultures. Instead of seeing a culture as it is portrayed in music, movies, or television, the player is interacting with actual members of the foreign culture, and able to form their own beliefs about them. It helps remind everyone, that even though we live in different places we share the common trait of being human beings and therefore helps to unify the world and build cultural ties. Another thing is the fact that the Online game almost seems to establish it’s own culture. A virtual world is essentially a virtual country with laws, an economy, and culture. People learn to associate with this culture rather than only where they were born. This develops rich melting pot communities much like the origins of the United States.

Communication is a large issue in transnational gaming. It is the one area that technology cannot fix… yet. In online games communication is vital to the success of the group, unfortunately if you are playing with people from all over the world you run into language barriers when trying to coordinate your strategy. Final Fantasy XI changed that with it’s unique translation system, and while not perfect it is a step in the right direction. This is the most immediate problem needing to be solved in online gaming. Once language barriers are eliminated, essentially virtual worlds will become new cultures and new communities, with everyone associating with each other no matter where they are connected from.
These are just large points from my analysis. In my next few posts (over the next week or two) I plan to continue to elaborate from what I have discovered in reading these survey answers and continue to point out what can be done to further enhance transnational interactions, and what is so wonderful about them.

My Welcome to the Blog and Friday Update

Welcome to WorldPlay Research’s new blog. We’ve set up this blog in order to help everyone track the WorldPlay project’s progress and to share our findings to those who are interested. Each researcher will be posting several updates since over the course of the semester we will be branching out and working on different sections of the main project.

Now that the welcome is out of the way here is my first update. Evan and I worked together to get this whole blog deal set up as we are getting back into the project after a holiday break. My next steps are going to include helping with some house keeping of our wiki to improve our organization. We are continuing our outreach strategies and will hopefully be pulling in more survey results soon. Even with the holiday break we managed to get around 50 new survey results in, and are now conducting more in depth survey analysis on our current results.

On one final note, since we are studying online games I will mention that I picked up the Star Trek Online BETA and so far it’s a really nice game. I’m a sucker for space combat so that contributes to it. The space combat is very in depth and actually quite entertaining. I’ll keep everyone posted as I progress especially when the game launches.

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