Julian Dibbell, what difference does a game make? What impact does games bring to social spaces? The matter of community, social spaces, etc etc.
"Rape in Cyberspace" - a moment of making community visible within Lambda MOO.
From "The Well" - as real life touches the lives of others.
How does the reality of virtual spaces touch on the ludic or game like quality of game spaces?
Julian asks some interesting questions and I am not sure if I will get further than this for a while. I think however that the answer is not that hard. A game provides people with some really important ..forutsetninger.. which are needed to create a functioning social space.
1) A common background. In order to have something to communicate about, we need common experiences. It does not have to be the same experience, but it needs to be a comparable one.
2) A chance to assist each other. Community and social spaces are made out of the exchanges of gifts - they live by a gift economy. By playing a game together we can share knowledge, hints, objects, lend a hand in tasks or offer protection. All of these are the kind of gifts that we give to ach other in a good fleshworld social space, and a multi-player game lends itself to this.
3) Challenges and tasks. Communities grow around common projects. People who have a shared goal cooperate and connect, and care for each others on many levels. They need to know a lot about each other in order to know how to utilise the resources of the group in order to achieve their goals. Again, games lend themselves very easily to this, while it is the kind of mechanisms which build communities.
And these are just three aspects. If we go into this further we will find many more aspects of flesh-world communities which the games facilitate. I would propose that we don't look at digital spaces and ask why games are so good for them, but look seriously at communities grown up around other games in the flesh world, and try to find out what is different and if there is a difference. Is it something else to play World of Warcraft than to play bridge, when we look at it as a focus for a community?