Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 25 Issue 6 (November/December 2015), Pages 459-548

Sense of Community, Social Identity and Social Support Among Players of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs): A Qualitative Analysis (pages 459-473)

ABSTRACT

The majority of research examining massively multiplayer online game (MMOG)‐based social relationships has used quantitative methodologies. The present study used qualitative semi‐structured interviews with 22 Australian World of Warcraft (WoW) players to examine their experiences of MMOG‐based social relationships. Interview transcripts underwent thematic analysis and revealed that participants reported experiencing an MMOG‐based sense of community (a sense of belonging within the gaming or WoW community), discussed a number of different MMOG‐based social identities (such as gamer, WoW player and guild or group member) and stated that they derived social support (a perception that one is cared for and may access resources from others within a group) from their relationships with other players. The findings of this study confirm that MMOG players can form gaming communities. Almost all participants accessed or provided in‐game social support, and some gave or received broader emotional support. Players also identified as gamers and guild members. Fewer participants identified as WoW players. Findings indicated that changes to the game environment influence these relationships and further exploration of players' experiences could determine the optimal game features to enhance positive connections with fellow players. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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