Dear Steinkuehler and Williams,
I like that you took two different approaches to research MMOs for your research. I personally have never partaken in an MMO, but I do have male friends that have played online games and made friends doing such. Because I have talked about these games with friends before, I do agree with your findings that while these places might not be communities of people who are support systems for each other, they in fact ‘function to expose the individual to a diversity of worldviews.’ I like that you related these types of communities to that of pubs and coffee shops, because I feel like those are perfect analogies of how relationships work there. I think that the setup of your research was planned out well and the execution of it was done methodically. I found it interesting that during the semi-structured interviews, one of the questions asked of the participants were about their life outside the game. I found that I wanted to see examples of answers given by the participants for this question, whether or not they had very social lives or if they were more reclusive. I know it’s a stereotype that people who are so into online games or virtual worlds don’t have very active social lives in the real world. I think the friends I have are either exceptions to that stereotype or these stereotypes aren’t as realistic as people would believe.
Your research is broken down easily for people who are unfamiliar with MMOs to explain how these places can be viewed as third places. As you mention in your article, television and the internet are taking up so much of Americans time now that their outdoor social interaction continues to decrease. In MMOs, there are eight sections that they can be viewed as third places. Of these eight rankings, three of them caught my eye because I found them to be accurate descriptions and portrayals of your research. Neutral ground, where players can come and go with little obligation to other players is what you would use to describe people who play MMOs for themselves and aren’t there for the community. The regulars are those who are always in MMOs and they help create the community and give it personality, which I have seen exampled in television shows and I’ve read about in other articles. The last section is a home away from home, here as you say they have Seamon's five defining traits: rootedness, feelings of possession, spiritual regeneration, feelings of being at ease, and warmth, I’ve heard plenty of times that the internet is a place to escape and where people find places they can feel comfortable because they don’t in real life, so MMOs can be considered a new home for the individuals that play them. In all, I think your extensive research was done very well and clearly came with the results you intended to prove the point you were trying to make.
Ana Luisa Suarez