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Role Playing (Games) Games

Online "Guilds" Mirror Real Life Gangs 160 160

j-beda writes "In June 2009, Dr. Neil Johnson published a paper titled 'Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic' in Physical Review E that found the way in which WoW 'guilds' form can be described by a mathematical model that can also be applied to an unrelated group of people: street gangs in Los Angeles. Since 'Any group that satisfies these fairly autonomous, competitive criteria would also (fit the model),' said Dr. Johnson, the findings are of interest to those combating international as well as local terrorist cells."
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Online "Guilds" Mirror Real Life Gangs

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  • Teams as well (Score:4, Interesting)

    by T.E.D. (34228) on Monday November 30, 2009 @10:34AM (#30269754)
    The relation I've noticed (being a soccer player) is with soccer teams. I've seen the exact same cycles of drama and team splits. Its just like an online guild, but in slow motion (as they don't spend as much time together in a week).
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday November 30, 2009 @10:39AM (#30269788) Journal
    About the students in Physics bit: The results are often somewhat unfortunate; but there is an entire genre of papers, across a variety of subjects, generated by physicists' belief that, as long as they can develop a mathematical model, they can write on just about anything. There is a similar behavior in economists, who figure that, if they can assign dollar values to the major variables, they are on safe ground.

    Sometimes the results are genuinely interesting, or even downright superior, if the area has been bogged down in excessive qualitative handwaving. Other times, you get breathtaking exercises in over-reduction, ignorant of a variety of messy details that have been common knowledge, among people who actually study the subject, for decades.
  • by Xacid (560407) on Monday November 30, 2009 @10:56AM (#30269934) Journal
    One use I could perhaps see what they'd could use this research for is to justify offering something of either deterrence or rehabilitation through the use of guilds. Give guys who feel a need to belong and a need to whack shit with a weapon and you could *maybe* have something of a replacement with something like WoW. Hey, it's a stretch, but it's all I got. Worth noting: I have a little brother who seems to not mind the juvenile justice system all that much and is a relatively frequent visitor - however, once I got him into gaming and into things like Tribes, Priston Tale, and whatnot where clans/guilds existed his desire to go outside and henceforth get into trouble dropped significantly. Granted, it's just a patch for other socio/economic issues, but it could still have a somewhat positive effect. I'd much rather lazy gamers than violent gang members.
  • by khasim (1285) <> on Monday November 30, 2009 @11:14AM (#30270100)

    It's very easy to build a "model" for something. You just abstract everything until it is meaningless.

    Since this article is locked behind a pay site, it's going to be difficult to evaluate it at the moment.

    From TFA:

    Despite the difference in demographics in both cases, social groups still tend to form around individuals who are able to add complementary skills to the collective.

    The researchers devised a mathematical model to describe the formation of these social groups.

    This model can also be used to analyse how the groups react to or are affected by external forces.

    So if GroupA lacks characteristic B and person C has characteristic B but not characteristic D which would negatively affect GroupA then GroupA may admit person C.

    Writing it is simple. Defining characteristics in quantitative methodology is the difficult part. How much of B offsets how much of D?

  • Groups of people (Score:2, Interesting)

    by heidaro (1392977) on Monday November 30, 2009 @01:10PM (#30271374)
    I find that WoW guilds often resemble political parties. They have drama, scandals, split ups and disbands, just like in politics. Then again, it's a group of people, and a group of people is a group of people, regardless of location.
  • by opiv6ix (1033966) on Monday November 30, 2009 @01:53PM (#30271922)
    If I had mod points I would mod you up. 60 minutes did a special with the commander of the special forces group that hunted Bin Laden. It was very interesting. Based on all the intel they had, they believed that they bombed a cave that he was in, possibly injuring him. He was presumed dead, but resurfaced months later. Amazing story to hear. Based on his telling of it, it sounded as though his higher ups tied one arm behind his back in his mission to kill Bin Laden.
  • Re:Wow... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thesandtiger (819476) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @12:10AM (#30279188)

    Are church congregations usually engaging in clandestine competitive activities?

    I think you're trying to push this model past the intent and scope. I didn't get the idea that this is supposed to be some grand unifying theory of group dynamics that can apply to ANY kind of grouping of human beings, but rather that it was being used to explore groups of a fairly specific type.

    Don't get me wrong - I absolutely don't think this is epochal in impact on the field or, likely, all that important actually; people put forth models of group dynamics *all* *the* *time* so this isn't anything terribly exciting. My initial response was to point out that this isn't about "Oh, gee, there are dynamics to groups of humans!" but that it was about trying to apply a model that works on one group of a given type to another, unrelated, group with some similar characteristics.

    I don't think anyone needs to "legitimize" WoW (or any of those other things) - our recreational habits, as a species, have long been acceptable subjects for academics. I'd say that if "sports medicine" can be a legitimate field of study, then certainly looking at various types of entertainment that consume a LOT of time from millions of people from very different cultures from across the globe is probably pretty legit to look at.

    Actually, going totally tangential - why would anyone think WoW isn't worth looking at? It's a business that has over 10 million repeat customers spending god only knows how many hours a month using the product. The customers come from virtually every single country, every single demographic group, every single line of work/school. You have large groups of people gathering to work co-operatively (or not) to achieve somewhat complicated goals, often times without even speaking much of the same language except for a form of pidgin. You also have entire side industries that have sprung up around the game (gold selling/farming, power leveling services, etc.). You have thousands of people developing (usually free!) software add-ons to make the gameplay more efficient. You have tens of thousands of websites dedicated to the game.

    I'd say anyone who thinks that examining various angles the phenomenon of WoW is not legitimate is actually not terribly bright. It may seem silly at first, but giving it even a moment's thought reveals some pretty amazing things that are worth trying to understand.

Frankly, Scarlett, I don't have a fix. -- Rhett Buggler