What Makes an MMORPG Leader? A Social Cognitive Theory-Based Approach to Understanding the Formation of Leadership Capabilities in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games

Andrew Ee, Hichang Cho


Using Bandura’s (1986) Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and McCormick’s (2001) SCT-applied models of leadership, we aimed to understand the complex processes of leadership development in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) environments. Using in-depth interview data from 20 Singaporean World of Warcraft players, we examined how environmental factors (e.g. game design, communication, and collaboration structures), personal factors (e.g. self-efficacy), and gaming behaviour affect the development of leadership capabilities. The findings suggest that Bandura’s and McCormick’s frameworks are useful in explaining how these factors contribute to leadership development, with some examples including: 1) game designs that allow for formalised leadership roles can create better opportunities for leadership development, and 2) self-efficacy, an important trait for leadership development, can be cultivated through confidence gained by reinforcing knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) through repeated application of these KSAs in similar situations. Implications for research and practice are discussed.


Leadership, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG), Social cognitive theory

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