Speed Dial Gaming

BY Heather Richtmyre  //  January 13, 2011

Where multiplayer meets networking.


s touched on in our most recent podcast, social ties can be a major factor in online gaming. Much of these ties form in the organizations commonly known as guilds, though they can go by other titles such as "corporation." While there are many factors involved with the social behaviors within these groups, I'll try to cover a broad overview of three concepts: communication, obligations, and interaction.

Communication covers all the ways that players interact. While in-game text is the most common format, many groups also use a voice-chat server such as Ventrilo to facilitate more immediate response, especially during complicated and time-dependent encounters such as player-versus-player combat or large group player-versus-environment endeavors. In some groups this can also include the sharing of instant messenger, e-mail, and phone information to allow for contacting members in most circumstances.

Of course, the different communication methods can also facilitate the influence of in-game obligations outside of games. Swapping phone numbers with the raid leader allows for both one to send a text message explaining you can't make an activity, and to receive one when you fail to show up without proving notice of such. It can also lead to such impromptu questions as "We're doing Throne of the Four Winds. Want to come?"

The strongest tie among players is general interaction. This can range from the occasional chat involving something other than in-game considerations, to all meeting up at a convention and then scheduling activities together. Both the length and type of interaction, along with personality factors, affect how strong these ties can become.

Personally, I'm looking forward to hanging out with my guild members at the next BlizzCon, but hope to not receive too many texts asking me to substitute in for raids over the next few weeks.

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