It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in any Massively Multiplayer Online Games. When I was involved it was amazing to see how friendships could spring up and how people could come together to support each other and all pitch in to have a good time and build something together. It was also amazing to see how it could all fall apart, sometimes in what seemed like an instant, and other times gradually over time as people lost interest in the group’s goal and each other. There was, and I have to assume still is, a TON of drama that goes on in any guild and I always assumed that any gathering of a group not really known for it’s social skill set was doomed to eventual failure. While that may be the case there is a lot of interesting information out about group dynamics and social group limits and optimal sizes. I was really doing research for an article on Facebook and other social networking applications, but it turns out the MMO games have really proved to be THE rich data source for social theorists.
Since this information has been gathered from these games it seems only fitting that it be pumped back into the system, leaders of groups and guilds should be able to utilize this information in-game, add to it some more conventional and generic social skills and leaders can keep their player groups happier and more efficient, and in my experience that makes it more fun as well! I’m not an expert and won’t pretend to be so if you are interested I suggest you read up:
- Dunbar’s Number -Dunbar’s number is a theoretical number that sets an upper bound on how big a human’s social group can effectively be, this is a wikipedia article for general background after you’ve got that read:
- The Dunbar Number as a Limit to Group Sizes – Digging further into the Dunbar number, Christopher Allen does a good job explaining the Dunbar Number and explores how satisfaction varies with the population of a group, be sure to read his other posts on the subject.
- Palo Alto Research Center’s PlayOn – First indulge yourself in their Guild Name Generator, and then check out the content. They’ve gotten some really good data and have used it to study player’s playing times, habits, and personality types.
- How to Win Friends & Influence People – It turns out that interpersonal skills are timeless and useful anywhere, if you haven’t read Dale Carnegie’s classic I suggest you pick up a copy.