Monday, March 26, 2012
Dear, Steinkuehler and Williams,
Your research into how MMO’s can be third places is quite fascinating and the two-method approach is certainly novel as you state. I’m not really a gamer at all but I was into video games when I was younger. Back then, though, there were not PS3’s or Xbox 360’s so most of the time I would play by myself or with a couple friends. I didn’t see video games or MMO’s as a place to meet people because no one else was doing that. Even know, with it so prevalent in our culture, it’s hard for me to understand how people can be so into these virtual worlds but still be mildly socially competent. Your article, however, has proven to me that there is more than just meets the eye to the third place.
I think that there was no other way to come to your conclusion than by using two different “lines of inquiry.” You were able to prove through the media effects approach that MMO’s are indeed very similar to the real third places that we in habit everyday. And through the sociocultural perspective that players who are participating in the virtual world are gaining nearly as much social capital, or creating it, as they would be if they were in the traditional third places. This is fascinating because the two approaches not only support each other but they are able to support the bigger question of what benefit do these MMO’s really have and are they socially healthy? The most interesting point that you stated in your conclusion was how this benefit decreases as more time is invested into the world. This makes sense because focus if put more into succeeding in the game than creating bonds with fellow gamers. However, I do believe that even when gamers are focused on a goal of the game, they can build ties with others but they might not have the remaining energy or desire to ensure that those bonds last.