Thursday, May 31, 2007

Towards an Anthropology of gaming communities?

The ABC's online news has an article entitled "Online chat gets touchy-feely at its core", reporting on findings about communicative hierarchies of language register use made from a study of "online communities". Australian linguist Doctor Barbara Kelly of the University of Melbourne also suggests that "language analysis can be used as a way to confirm whether an online community is developing..."

It would be interesting to apply this to online gaming communities. We gamers have taken avidly to the use of computers as gaming machines since the days when you had to assemble your own computer to have one. Also, what we do online (gaming) is much the same kind of activity as what we do when we play over the kitchen table or down at the club - so the online community has its real world analogues and benchmarks. These features of gaming communities would seem to make them ideal observational laboratories for such social researchers as Dr Kelly.

My only real observation here is that the genuine online gamers who play in immersive realities (eg. Pacific Fighters and other real time interactive multiplayer games) definitely do have a communicative repertoire that exceeds in depth and complexity those used in the less immersive corners of the community (eg. forums and various general clearing house and newsey sites). This seems to have grown out of the useage of chat technologies (and email) and their language practices. It's like the more the fora relates to real world activity, the more formal/distant its language.

I wonder where the game blogging community fits in this theoretical spectrum?

It's something I might ponder about a bit more in the nearish future?

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