• Ouch! David White and the Dragon Slaying

    Image of Valithria Dreamwalker successfully healed in Icecrown Citadel 25-person raid instance
    Image: Elsheindra and the 24 other members of Team EverREDy successfully heal Valithria Dreamwalker in Icecrown Citadel. Here, the challenge isn’t to slay the dragon, but to heal her. While whether she lives or dies isn’t a matter of perspective, how you react to finding someone else has done your thesis work can be a challenge to rise to or a disaster. It’s all in how you look at it.

    Tony Hirst (@psychemedia) built a Google custom search engine that scraped the profiles of Twitter users employing the #altc2010 hashtag for website addresses.  For a laugh, I typed in “World of Warcraft”, not expecting much to show up other than myself.  Well, I was there, but so was mention of a poster and a talk entitled “Cultural Capital and Community Development in the Pursuit of Dragon Slaying (Massively Multiplayer Guild Culture as a Model for e-L:earning)” at the 2007 Alt-C conference by David White.  That pointed me to an Alt-C talk and a GLS one in 2007.  So, not long before I started my Ph.D., David was already out there talking about this.  Ouch!  The “ouch” part is that I met him earlier this year at a gaming-related discussion panel.  He was chairing my table, but  we were discussing  digital residents and visitors.  David follows me on Twitter too!  World of Warcraft has never come up.

    The abstract mentions guilds, World of Warcraft, social capital, and communities of practice.  His description is eerily similar to my current focus.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a matching paper for the talk.  There’s just the GLS 2007 26-minute talk embedded in the blog pos from Tall Blog.  I’d best add this to my list of things to investigate soon.  It sounds very, very relevant.  Perhaps he has something I can build on or I will obtain some ideas on how to differentiate my work.  I am also interested in seeing his ethnographic approach and what he discovered.  This is a challenge, not a disaster.  There is always something different you can do.  You just need to find it.

  • Elsheindra and the Tripartite Identity

    Elsheindra the Druid

    Elsheindra the Druid

    I have been reading slowly but surely through James Paul Gee’s What Video Games Have To Teach Us about Learning and Literacy over the last six months. The following is based on notes I took for my research journal while reading Chapter 3 on learning and identity. In particular, I focus on the notion of the tripartite identity and what that means to me in the real world and in the virtual world in which I play.

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  • The Great Date Night Experiment

    When I last saw J, my supervisor, we were disagreeing about how to do the motivational essay coding for my first World of Warcraft survey.. My plan was to go through the essays first to come up with some themes. Then Basil and I would independently code them for theme. My reasoning was I wanted the coding to be free from subjective bias. If two of us agreed independently, then that would be better than just my assessment of the data. J. thought it was unlikely Basil and I would agree, so she set me the “Great Date Night Experiment.” In this experiment, Basil, my partner, and I would sit down on “date night” and test out my theory on a small scale. Basil would read one essay and summarize the main themes or ideas he thought were represented in the essay. I would independently do the same. Then I would report back to J.

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  • Help! Why Do You Play World of Warcraft?

    The One and Friends at the Start of Razorgore Encounter in Blackwing Lair

    The One and Friends at the start of Razorgore encounter in Blackwing Lair in March of 2010

    I’m now in week two of my first survey into learning, communities of practice, and World of Warcraft in support of my doctorate. The first part of the survey is collecting some in-game demographic details, such as how long people have played, what their first character was, favourite professions, etc. The meat of the survey, however, is a short answer question about why people play World of Warcraft.

    I am still looking for additional responses and the survey is scheduled to close at the end of this weekend (April 18th). If you play World of Warcraft or know other players, I would be grateful if you could encourage them to visit the survey information page and participate. On completion, participants will be given a code to enter a draw for three Blizzard store pets as prizes.

    Tweet, ask in guild, ask at university, or poke your workmates to pass the word along. Just remember that it’s only open to those 18 years or older as I’m interested in examining adults and learning and there are restrictions on participation in things by those younger than 18.


  • Learning in World of Warcraft: The WoW Learning Project

    Interesting facts:

    1. 60% of MMORPGs players are in the 20-35 year-old demographic (Nick Yee in Escoriaza 2009).
    2. In World of Warcraft specifically, 47% of players in 2005 were 26 years or older. (Yee 2008).
    3. About 75% of new students to The Open University are 26 years or older (Jha 2010, p. 20).

    When you consider that World of Warcraft had more than 11.5 million active subscribers by the end of 2008 (Blandeburgo 2009), that’s more than 5.4 million people in an age group very interesting for my work in higher education via distance education. In particular, remember that these 5.4 million people are often very compelled (sometimes even addicted) to play. What is it that motivates these people and what real-life tangible learning benefits are derived?

    Those are questions that I intend to answer in the WoW Learning project, a study of learning in World of Warcraft. Quietly built earlier this month and located at the memorable WoWLearning.org, it will be a repository for data, posts, and papers about my Ph.D. research into the learning, motivation, and communities of practice formation demonstrated by World of Warcraft players, both in the game and on forums.

    As the project will include ethnographic work in World of Warcraft as well as surveys, in the interests of transparency and to help foster credibility, postings are made using my World of Warcraft character name “Elsheindra (Michelle)” instead of my full real name or commonly used Internet nickname of “Eingang.”


  • World of Warcraft and Me: A True Confession

    Elsheindra is Michelle's night elf druidAs part of a course under development at The Open University, I was approached as a known World of Warcraft player and asked to write a short paragraph or two on why I play World of Warcraft. I freely admit to failing to only write a short paragraph or two, but that’s probably because I’m passionate about World of Warcraft and my activities in it, especially given the prominence it plays in my life in so many areas. Read on to find out why I play World of Warcraft.

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  • Levelling Lifelong Learning: Annual Progress Review

    Elsheindra the healy-dealy night elfI have my annual Ph.D. review meeting tomorrow afternoon. As usual, I’m more than a bit nervous, especially as I made the big step this academic year of completely dropping my former Ph.D. work and starting a brand new topic that intersects the boundaries of my three main interests: communities, learning and teaching, and Internet-enabled technologies. As part of the review process, we’re asked to produce a 4-page report that explains what we’ve done since the last report. In your first year, this report ought to focus on your thesis proposal, although many students won’t yet have one. I do have some ideas about what I want to do and how I am going to go about it. I’ve made an online version so that it will be indexed and easily findable by others interested in World of Warcraft and e-learning.

    The 30-second summary: Examine how metaphors and game design of World of Warcraft motivate people to learn and to work, with an eye to transferring motivation, social knowledge building, and persistence to online higher education practices, like community building for lifelong learning.

    Click the “More” link below to continue reading the online version of the proposal and progress report. A downloadable PDF version is also available.

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