Monday, March 19, 2012

Expanding Sociability

To Steinkuehler and Williams,

     Massive multiplayer online games (MMOs) are one of the most unique forms of social contact in the online world. Not only do they provide a place for individuals to communicate with one another but the games themselves are immense virtual worlds in which "quests" may begin. The examination of social engagement that you have done in this paper does a great job of showing the countless aspects involved in these online games. The main goal in an MMO may be to complete objectives for the video game aspect, but the social implications of them reach far further for those individuals who choose to play.

     One of the most important conclusions from this paper involved the "third place" that was described. A "third place" refers to the "place" between a person's home and workplace. In this case, it's more specifically referring to the social surroundings of this place and how a real community can be built through it. As you concluded in the paper, "Synthesizing the findings of these two lines of research, our conclusion is that MMOs are new (albeit virtual) "third places" for informal sociability that are particularly well suited to the formation of bridging social capital". This "third place" that's continually described and analyzed in the paper reminds me of the "weisure lifestyle", which was a term coined by sociologist Dalton Conley. The term weisure refers to the mix of both work and leisure time in our daily lives. The state of being in an MMO can be related to the weisure lifestyle due to its combination of home and work life. This is most evident when users' social capital is formed through the MMOs.
     The most interesting point about all this is the fact that these are such influential parts of the online world, but go widely unnoticed. Without the type of analysis done in this paper, any uninformed audience would never be able to understand the more in-depth concepts of these multiplayer games and virtual worlds. Those who are able to experience the "third place" however, can take advantage of this unique social community.

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