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Synergistic Theory

Presence and Social Constructs in the Third Places of Online Games

Presented at MAPOR 2007, Chicago, IL

Mary Casey Cleveland State University marence@gmail.com

Synergy
 (from the Greek synergos) a combination of things that create more than the sum of their parts  Synergistic media forms are becoming more accessible, being used by more consumers every day
 watching TV clips on the Web  movies/music/games on a mobile phone  communicating with others in 3-D virtual worlds
MAPOR 2007 Mary Casey Cleveland State University

Understanding synergistic media
 not a matter of finding one theory to explain phenomenon  it will take a new look at proven theories
 each which explains a facet of this rich and complex ever-evolving media

 develop a synergistic theory to further explain new media effects

MAPOR 2007

Mary Casey Cleveland State University

Creating synergistic theory to explain converging media
 start with an in-depth look at one small corner of this new media model
 concerns mass communication  works in organizational and interpersonal communication channels

MAPOR 2007

Mary Casey Cleveland State University

Creation of community
 studied by sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists.  shift from geographical to virtual communities  Online communities have been studied for 25 years perspective of educators and activists
 how to successfully build community  better teach and raise awareness,  PR and advertising
 build community for brand loyalty and increased spending.
MAPOR 2007 Mary Casey Cleveland State University

But there is one place online where communities spring up without a guiding hand, and create bonds resulting in deep friendships, love and even marriage – inside online games.
MAPOR 2007 Mary Casey Cleveland State University

Community in MMOGs
 requires looking at the games from a number of ways
 Quantitatively
 how many players are creating communities  who they are  currently being done at Stanford and at the Palo Alto Research Center, other universities and game companies

 Qualitatively
 why these players are creating community

 Virtual Environments
MAPOR 2007 Mary Casey Cleveland State University

Community

Literature Review

Tönnies (1887), Rovai (2002), Wellman (1999), Sieckenius de Souzaa & Preece (2004) Ducheneaut & Moore, (2004), Ducheneaut, Yee, Nickell & Moore (2006) Yee (2002, 2006, in press), Williams, Ducheneaut, Xiong, Zhang, Yee, & Nickell (2006) Bracken, Lange, and Denney (2005) Short, Williams & Christie (1976), Stuer (1995) Berger and Luckmann ( 1966)

Community in MMOGs Presence and MMOGs Virtual Environments Social Construction of Reality Third places
MAPOR 2007

Oldenburg (1989), Ducheneaut, Nickell & Moore (2004), Howard (2001), Castronova (2005), Williams (2006)
Mary Casey Cleveland State University

The synergy of presence and social construction
 Presence creates a space where people feel comfortable meeting in Internet mediated communication.  The social construction of reality that Internet-enabled spaces encourage allow users to:
 go beyond the geographic or physical constraints of face-to-face meetings  find like-minded others

 Either one is enough to explain the popularity of communities online, but the two theories combine to synergistically create something more – a virtual portal to nearly anywhere, anytime.

MAPOR 2007

Mary Casey Cleveland State University

 Email and instant messaging
 both are limited in presence.  no feel that your correspondent is really “there” with you.

 PC and console role playing games and simulation games
 solitary activity, or one other person  not an entire world of people to choose to play with.

 The synergy of presence and social building creates the perfect environment to build community and create a third place.

MAPOR 2007

Mary Casey Cleveland State University

Meet friends in a virtual tavern, complete with dance floor and drinks

MAPOR 2007

Mary Casey Cleveland State University

Laugh with a group of friends while adventuring and killing monsters

MAPOR 2007

Mary Casey Cleveland State University

More synergy in the media

MAPOR 2007

Mary Casey Cleveland State University

More media synergy
 the use of mass media channels in business
 increase communication between employees and save on travel expenses by using video conferencing.  telepresence (the sense of being there) and co-presence (the sense of being there together) with a socially constructed reality gives employees the feeling that they are all in a boardroom together

 The synergy of the converging media and information channels is mirrored by the synergy of the mass and interpersonal communication.

MAPOR 2007

Mary Casey Cleveland State University

Synergistic Theory
Presence and Social Constructs in the Third Places of Online Games

Thank you! Any questions?

MAPOR 2007

Mary Casey Cleveland State University