The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

A Symbolic Interactionist Perspective on the World of Warcraft Part One

Posted by Susan on October 6, 2008

I decided for the next few posts to take a closer look at the community and the individual that plays the world of warcraft and post some postulations about how this community falls within the social interactionist perspective.

Lets begin by looking at the community of the world of warcraft. Usually we define a community as a village, a town, a neighbourhood basically, any type of person to person interaction that usually occurs face to face.  But following the social interactionist perspective this term can refer to a social entity to which many individuals subscribe. World of warcraft is not dissimilar to this definition. It is in essence a virtual community to which many individuals subscribe, and share ideas. However in the World, individuals may interact together to reach personal or communal goals.  From the form of personal goals, it may be to level your character to the highest level, or it can be on an communal level, to get that piece of gear that your character needs, you may need your “community” or group to get it. From that perspective in the “World” there are many forms of communities that users may suscribe – There are two levels to these communities, there is the environment in which Blizzard has created, and the relationships that users build with other players.

The world that Blizzard creates is a community in itself. Blizzard creates a number of amazing cities, that users may enter, and interact with local individuals. These cities contain banks for item storage, trainers for both caracter abilities, and professions. Cities also contain auction houses that are used for game commerce, which develops into another level of gamers, those just in it to make gold.

Another aspect of the game, is the battlegroups, these are larger temporary communities, to which individuals come together from different servers to achieve a goal of beating another group of individuals. like I mentioned, these groups are temporary, and usually only last a few minutes.

The other aspect of community that blizzard has created is the raid group. Blizzard creates instances; separated areas of gameplay to which large groups, ranging from 5 to 25 players that attempt to conquer the instance and defeat the bosses at the end that blizzard creates to challenge players.

Outside of the environment that Blizzard creates to promote community, is the player interactions. Players may chat on many different levels. They may chat in cities, through city chat, in trade chat to discuss game commerce, in guild chats, which allow them to discuss amongst there guildmates about gameplay. There is also chat in battlegrounds to coordinate efforts and private chat so that you may discuss things privately with your friends.

As you can see the game provides many ways to which an individual may become ingrossed in the community of the world, and different avenues to achieve friendships and develop relationships with other players thus developing a community.

Tune in later as I disscuss the individual…and the motivation for playing from a social interactionist perspective…

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