Do those who play together stay together? The World of Warcraft community between play, practice and game design [Full text]
Ioana Cărtărescu-Petrică 
|Abstract: In a time when video games are commonly blamed for anything from antisocial behavior, to the isolation and alienation of their users Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games have developed to provide one of the ultimate online social experiences. Based on cooperation, coordination and communication among players, these games do more than simply provide entertainment: they foster communities, not only allowing trust and friendship to be born, but actively encouraging it. In fact, one of the main secret behind the success of this kind of game appears to be its capacity to stimulate interaction and bonding around a common goal for its players. This paper focuses on one of the world’s most popular MMORPGs, World of Warcraft, specifically on studying the characteristics of the community of play and practice built around it and on the influence the game architecture has on the survival potential of said WoW community. In order to achieve these goals, I have conducted a qualitative research at the height of the game’s popularity (2011) , conducting interviews with experienced, mostly hard-core and pro players and followed up with half of the original respondents four years later (in 2015), to see how their views on the gaming experience have evolved and to try to understand why the once flourishing WoW community seems to have started its decline.
Keywords: Community of play, community of practice, World of Warcraft, MMORPG, gaming community
 Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, University of Bucharest, firstname.lastname@example.org