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"I'm Just Here to Play Games": Social Dynamics and Sociality in an Online Game Site

Gregor McEwan, Carl Gutwin, Regan L. Mandryk, and Lennart E. Nacke. 2012. "I'm Just Here to Play Games": Social Dynamics and Sociality in an Online Game Site. In Proceedings of CSCW 2012. Seattle, WA, United States. ACM, 549-558. doi:10.1145/2145204.2145289

Abstract

There are many web sites that allow people to play board or card games against other human players. These sites offer tools and opportunities for social interaction, but little is known about how people really interact on these sites. To learn more about social dynamics on game sites, we analysed three months of log files from a large site to explore three themes: permanence (whether people formed a long-term association with the site); social interaction (in terms of shared activity and verbal communication); and formation of ties (whether people made contacts with others). Our analyses showed that while the site seems very social when we consider gameplay, the population was highly transient, and people talked very little. To explain these behaviours, we suggest that games and game-based activity should be considered as a legitimate form of human interaction. Our analysis provides new information and new ways of thinking about how game environments can be designed to support many kinds of sociability.