• Pigeonholing the Sample

    Photo of many coloured marbles
    Credit: Photo by Marsha Brockman (whodeenee) under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

    Image: Marbles, many marbles. I think I have lost mine in a sample of many marbles.

    I’ve been re-running analyses today on my population of survey responses. I decided to remove some more responses to eliminate some the scatteredness in the population. The majority of responses were from European PvE (player versus the environment) realm players, so I removed the four American realm players and then the five non-PvE players, leaving me with a sample of 30.

    The more I read about sampling, the more confused I am.

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  • On the Importance of the Title and Abstract

    Screenshot of Broggok, the many-eyed, green boss in Blood Furnace
    Credit: Screenshot by Heather Hopkins (Clevergrrl) under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license

    Image: I can just imagine this Blood Furnace boss exhorting people “L2P!” as he kills them over and over.

    It is day two of the writing regime. Today’s plan is writing 750 words, writing CMA feedback, and working on the paper. I was musing last night about the approach to the paper, thinking that having an abstract or an introduction actually makes it easier to write because it provides a focus for the paper’s direction. I have heard other people say that it makes sense to leave the introduction to the last because then you know what you’ve written. I think the former approach might be more sensible for me. I can always go back and revise the introduction if it does not reflect what I end up doing. Focus, however, is priceless.

    In addition to an introduction or an abstract, a title might also help. I was experimenting with variants of “L2P! Learn To Play Or…”. I thought that was clever, as it’s something you often see more experienced, impatient players saying to players who they think are not living up to their expectations in terms of expertise or speed. In the context of my work, however, it probably makes more sense to say “P2L! Play To Learn”, but I’m not sure how many people will get that. Nevertheless, a title is a starting point. I had both before I started my keynote writing and that turned out well. Perhaps I can incorporate the factoid into the abstract.


    “L2P! L2P!” This is the exhortation you might encounter in massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) when other players around you believe your skill or speed in playing is inadequate. It means “learn to play”. In this paper, we demonstrate how L2P has been turned on its axis to yoke the trials of play to the game of learning. 39 World of Warcraft players primarily playing in Europe submitted essays answering the question “Why do you play World of Warcraft?” in a 2010 study.

    Using a grounded theory approach and discourse analysis, the essays were analyzed to ascertain the contributors’ motivations for playing and their reasons for persisting in playing. Yee’s player motivational framework subcomponents (Yee 2005; Yee 2006) were applied to each essay and contrasted with Bartle’s original player typology (Bartle 1996; Bartle 2003) in aggregate to determine overall, general motives these players had. While participants were not asked to write explicitly about learning and many did not provide any examples, several contributions are examined here as case studies of mundane and unusual examples, illustrating what these adults are playing to learn–a learning that goes beyond dungeons, dragons, and dwarves.

    That does not seem too bad as a first go. I need to check on the discourse analysis; it might not be completely true. I also have no idea how I am going to write up the grounded theory bit appropriately, but at least that is accurate. I definitely followed that kind of approach in tagging the essays. I need to find some time to pore through the James Paul Gee’s book on discourse analysis. I just saw someone else in #phdchat mention it again yesterday. It keeps cropping up and I keep not reading it, even after I went to buy it and then realized I already had. That is trying to tell me something, if I would only listen. I also need to check on what to call Yee’s framework.


    Bartle, R. (1996) ‘Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs’, Journal of MUD Research, 1 (1). Also available from: http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm (Accessed April 22, 2011).

    Bartle, R. (2003) Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders Publishing.

    Yee, N. (2005) A Model of Player Motivations, [online] Daedalus Project. Available from: http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/archives/001298.php?page=1 (Accessed March 31, 2011).

    Yee, N. (2006) ‘Motivations for Play in Online Games’, CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9 (6), pp:772-775. Also available from: http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cpb.2006.9.772 (Accessed March 31, 2011).

  • Discourse Analysis Conversational Analysis

    Doing Qualitative Research: The Book

    Doing Qualitative Research: The Book

    I was reading Chapter 3 of David Silverberg’s Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook (Silverman, 2010 p.17-42) in September.  In it he gives three research diaries of Ph.D. students he had, detailing how they went from the start of their research projects, through methodology choice, and then through to data analysis.  While it was quite striking how coherent and “painless” the stories were, the more relevant realization I took away from it was the importance of having a framework around which to direct your research and to make sense of your data.  In two of the cases, the students used conversational analysis, a ethnomethodological approach.

    Conversation analysis (commonly abbreviated as CA) is the study of talk in interaction (both verbal and non-verbal in situations of everyday life). CA generally attempts to describe the orderliness, structure and sequential patterns of interaction, whether institutional (in school, a doctor’s surgery, court or elsewhere) or in casual conversation.
    Wikipedia (2010a)

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  • Hermeneutics as Methodology

    I was reading through Chapter 4 of Silverman’s (2010) Doing Qualitative Research.  This chapter looks at the methodological approaches that different students take.  This is, of course, an important part of having a framework from which to hang your analysis.  There are so many choices.  He starts off with some descriptions of students describing their work as discourse analysis, narrative, analysis, and hermeneutics.  At first I thought this was related to something I’d looked up earlier in the month, heutagogy, but it’s just that they both start with “he”.  Wikipedia defines hermeneutics like this:

    Hermeneutics (English pronunciation: /hɜrməˈnjuːtɨks/) is the study of interpretation theory, and can be either the art of interpretation, or the theory and practice of interpretation. Traditional hermeneutics — which includes Biblical hermeneutics — refers to the study of the interpretation of written texts, especially texts in the areas of literature, religion and law. Contemporary, or modern, hermeneutics encompasses not only issues involving the written text, but everything in the interpretative process. This includes verbal and nonverbal forms of communication as well as prior aspects that affect communication, such as presuppositions, preunderstandings, the meaning and philosophy of language, and semiotics.[1] Philosophical hermeneutics refers primarily to Hans-Georg Gadamer’s theory of knowledge as developed in Truth and Method, and sometimes to Paul Ricoeur.[2] Hermeneutic consistency refers to analysis of texts for coherent explanation. A hermeneutic (singular) refers to one particular method or strand of interpretation.
    Wikipedia (2010)

    It’s apparently related to computational semiotics or used in computational semiotics.  That reminds me of James Paul Gee again because he talks about the semiotics of things in his What Video Games Have To Teach Us about Learning and Literacy (2007).  Is it another sign that I need to be looking at Gee’s book on discourse analysis (Gee 2011)?


    Gee, J.P. (2007) What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, 2nd edition, New York, NY, United States, Palgrave Macmillan.

    Gee, J.P. (2011) An Introduction to Discourse Analysis Theory and Method, 3rd edition, Abingdon, United Kingdom, Routledge.

    Silverman, D. (2010) Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook, 3rd edition, London, United Kingdom, Sage Publications Ltd.

    Wikipedia. (2010) Hermeneutics, [online] web page, Wikipedia. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermeneutics (Accessed September 21, 2010).

  • 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.

  • WoW Survey Design: Putting the Horse Before the Cart?

    I’ve been thinking about the design of the study I want to do on motivation in World of Warcraft. My immediate approach, similar to introductory programming students, was to jump right into the meat of it and start writing survey questions instead of planning. In order to get the data you need in the study, you need to know what questions you want answered. You need to plan. Without knowing that, how can you write survey questions to elicit those answers? So what is it I want to know?

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