Archives For World of Warcraft

I wasn’t going to post again until after the new year, but saw an article in yesterday’s paper  (yes, I still read the newspaper, get over it) that questioned the validity of NSF funding going towards researching online gaming.  Below is a link to a story from a few months ago about the actual research project which sheds some light on what they are doing.  While I don’t want to argue the merits of NSF funding going towards this, I do truly believe that we can learn a lot about Internet ministry by studying how people interact online through games such as World of Warcraft and the “not really a game” Second Life.  See my write-ups here and here about this and read the news story below.

UCI tackles ‘World of Warcraft’ mystery

And Happy New Year!

Talk to the hand

December 17, 2008 — 3 Comments

Last week, I posted on how the study of online gaming, specifically interactive multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft, could lead to new insights into how to best minister on the Internet. As part of that research, I have just finished reading I, Avatar, a fascinating book about just what happens when someone spends more and more time in a virtual world and focuses specifically on the concept of the avatar.

The author, Mark Stephen Meadows, defines an avatar as “an interactive, social representation of a user”.  And here is where it gets interesting: while we may think of an avatar as something that only exists in a virtual world such as WoW or Second Life, he also points out that anytime we create an interactive, social representation of ourselves we are, in effect, creating an avatar. So that Facebook account you keep where you present the most interesting side of yourself to your “friends”: avatar. That blog you write where you put all of those highly intelligent posts: avatar.  Even that car you drive that tells everyone something about you: avatar.  The way I see it, all of us have multiple avatars, whether we use them in interactive online games or not.

Continue Reading…

In several conversations I have had recently, the subject has come up of where technology is going and how those new technologies will affect how we impact the world for Christ.  In my course on Internet ministry, I am purposely not planning on teaching specific technologies because of the fact that technology changes so quickly. But I am going to work with the students on understanding concepts behind technologies so that they can be ready to use new technologies as they become available.

It has been said that progress in technology is driven by the porn industry. While I am sure that studying the latest innovations in online sex would be insightful (eye-opening?), I am not ready to do that in my class at Biola.  However, there is another driver for technological innovation: online gaming.  Specifically, I am referring to that class of online gaming known as “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games” or MMORPG. These games allow a player to take on the role of an individual within some sort of fantasy world and interact with dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of other players. This shared experience leads to the development of culture, community, and even an economy. How does the experience in these games in the online world impact life of the participant in the physical world?  What lessons can those doing online ministry learn from the way players interact online or physically?

WoW logo

Perhaps the most extensive gaming community applicable to study would be World of Warcraft (WoW), with over fifteen million (yes: 15,000,000) active participants in the US alone.  I am, by no means, an expert on World of Warcraft or gaming culture, so if I intend on using WoW as a vehicle for study in my upcoming course, I will need to spend some time understanding it further and, yes, even playing it. I will also need to rely experts in this community to help me see how the study of WoW can shape and perhaps even influence what we do in Internet ministry.