Played and Designed Sociality in a Massive Multiplayer Online Game

Lina Eklund, Magnus Johansson


This empirical study focuses on online collaboration and social interaction in temporary group formations. A case study of a massive multiplayer online game World of Warcraft explores these issues. Within this context little attention has been paid to temporary collaboration groups. The phenomenon is analyzed using interaction data complemented with interview data, forum data and consideration of game design.

We found two main types of interaction, sociable and instrumental, but investment in the social situation was exceedingly little. We conclude that the low levels of social interaction observed are the result of a game design that makes the cost of social play high and restricts the available space for players to act within the designed architecture of the game, thus limiting the possibilities for played sociality. The connection between designed and played sociality is crucial for understanding online collaboration as it shapes online social worlds and therefore users’ experiences within this social context.


Sociality, online gaming, interaction analysis, MMOs, design, World of Warcraft, sociability, instrumental play, online collaboration

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