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Online "Guilds" Mirror Real Life Gangs

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the you-can't-quit-the-bloods dept.

Role Playing (Games) 160

j-beda writes "In June 2009, Dr. Neil Johnson published a paper titled 'Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic' in Physical Review E that found the way in which WoW 'guilds' form can be described by a mathematical model that can also be applied to an unrelated group of people: street gangs in Los Angeles. Since 'Any group that satisfies these fairly autonomous, competitive criteria would also (fit the model),' said Dr. Johnson, the findings are of interest to those combating international as well as local terrorist cells."

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LFG... (5, Funny)

MrRTFM (740877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269616)

Need crazy bomber - PST stats & achievement (no noobs)

Re:LFG... (1)

Sinning (1433953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270096)

is now recruiting lvl 80 Suicide Bombers and Highjackers PST with spec and stats.

Re:LFG... (1)

Sinning (1433953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270112)

/sigh apparently my guild name was interpreted as html due to the brackets.

Re:LFG... (1)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270666)

You're complaining? /. forces a preview on you these days. You should have caught it.

Re:LFG... (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270822)

RTFP? you must be new here.

Re:LFG... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30272024)

I wonder if the East LOS gangs use a DKP system... cuz im not down with that >.

Re:LFG... (3, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270448)

Don't waste your time man. Recruit lvl 80 Bomb makers and strategists, and lvl 1 suicide bombers.

Suicide bombers never really make it to the high levels. Their characters are on a gimped build.

Re:LFG... (2, Funny)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271540)

<Axis of Anarchy> is now recruiting Level 85 Goblin Sappers!

Re:LFG... (2, Funny)

Conchobair (1648793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271788)

You are no match for <The Knights of Good>!

After a thorough analyzation of your playing styles and personalities adjoined with data from my own personal unsystematic numeral initiator your odds of winning are 33.33% with the three repeating of course. In addition I just watched Season 3 of The Guild.

link to article?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30269648)

This summary is very vague. Does anyone have a link to the real article?

Wow... (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269650)

Did somebody just rediscover the fact that humans have been forming little social groups, sometimes partially or wholly kin-based, other times simply social, for most of their evolutionary history?

This isn't a "Oh, look at those gamers and gangsters and terrorists, how exotic" thing. This is how humans have operated(and to a large extent continue to operate) until the very recent rise in formalized mechanisms of social organization(and even these tend to be infested by little social cliques of various sorts, if you scratch the surface).

Re:Wow... (5, Insightful)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269974)

Did you miss the part about how there's a model for the interaction, and that model is valid for both groups (gangs and WoW guilds)?

While this is nowhere near the same in impact as Newton's work, your comment would be akin to someone saying, "Duh, dumbass, we already KNEW things would fall if you drop them!"

In other words, you seem to have missed the whole point - this is about a possible verification of a model for human group dynamics, not about the existence of group dynamics. There is a difference, rather a large one.

Without SEEING the formula, it's rather difficult. (2, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270100)

It's very easy to build a "model" for something. You just abstract everything until it is meaningless.

Since this article is locked behind a pay site, it's going to be difficult to evaluate it at the moment.

From TFA:

Despite the difference in demographics in both cases, social groups still tend to form around individuals who are able to add complementary skills to the collective.

The researchers devised a mathematical model to describe the formation of these social groups.

This model can also be used to analyse how the groups react to or are affected by external forces.

So if GroupA lacks characteristic B and person C has characteristic B but not characteristic D which would negatively affect GroupA then GroupA may admit person C.

Writing it is simple. Defining characteristics in quantitative methodology is the difficult part. How much of B offsets how much of D?

Re:Without SEEING the formula, it's rather difficu (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30270486)

Amen. You have no idea how sick and tired I get of the software architects who think every single problem can be solved by "modeling" it. Fucking idiots, all of them.

I saw one of these pricks spent three days "modeling" a script to retrieve some emails from an SMTP server, and save them to some files. After the third day, I got fed up and wrote the script in a few lines of Perl. No, I didn't use any "design patterns" or "best practices", but it got the goddamn job done, and done quickly.

I can only imagine that models from the social sciences are far, far less useful than software models.

Re:Without SEEING the formula, it's rather difficu (2, Informative)

Random Walk (252043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270578)

They measure cumulative size distribution (how many groups of size >= N) and churn (how many people leave the group for another one in a given period).

They are able to come up with a simple mathematical model for the behaviour of players (essentially: recruit people with diverse attributes/skills) that reproduces the observed data extremely well. And they also show that the alternative 'kinship' model (recruit people with similar attributes/skills) fails to reproduce the observed data.

I would say that their model does quite a good job at modeling some rather nontrivial data.

Re:Without SEEING the formula, it's rather difficu (4, Informative)

kaplong! (688851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270652)

http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0812.2299 [arxiv.org] is a better (free) link to the preprint.

Sarcastic question, answered honestly (0, Troll)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270064)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus: Did somebody just rediscover the fact that humans have been forming little social groups, sometimes partially or wholly kin-based, other times simply social, for most of their evolutionary history?

No, it's been observed that people have been gathering this way for a very long time. However, there's this field of study called "sociology" which aims to figure out what makes these groups come together or fight. And your comment got me wondering just how old the field of sociology really is.

I've only just started researching, but the earliest cite I've found so far is an examination of the pre-Civil-War south. This was about the 1850s, so sociology is a young science. And it's a slow-moving, vague science, combining the touchy-feely nature of biology, the indeterminacy of quantum mechanics, and the dismalness of economics. Why, it's just like a version of theology applied to the common man.

Because it is a science, there are occasionally breakthroughs or discoveries. And when they happen, they get announced. And when they're announced, people either perk up or yawn and brush them aside depending upon how profitable they sound.

Re:Sarcastic question, answered honestly (4, Funny)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270954)

Because it is a science

I've dated sociologists, sociology is a science in much the same way Jazz is a color.

Re:Sarcastic question, answered honestly (5, Funny)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271210)

Obligatory. http://xkcd.com/435/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Sarcastic question, answered honestly (1)

pizzap (1253052) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271666)

At least sociology is on there.. speaks for itself that economics, history and educational science are not even mentioned.
Ignoring philosophy however is just ignorant.

Re:Sarcastic question, answered honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30272032)

So said the guy who decided upon this based completely on a single piece of a highly subjective personal anecdote...

Re:Sarcastic question, answered honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30272104)

...the same way Jazz is a color.

I thought Jazz was a light shade of Blues. /badpun

Re:Wow... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270124)

It's not even that. It's 'this game-theory based model is applicable to multiple cases of human interaction'. Just like, for example, every other game-theory based model.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30272146)

Isn't America itself just one really big gang? You know we love shaking down smaller countries.

Who cares about Iraq (4, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269654)

the findings are of interest to [those] combating international as well as local terrorist cells

Who cares about Iraq when I can help fight the terrorists by playing WoW all day.

Re:Who cares about Iraq (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271236)

You're probably doing more to fight Terrorism by playing WoW than being in the Middle East giving Terrorist Recruiters a reason to recruit.

I knew it wasn't me! (2, Funny)

JoeSixpack00 (1327135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269662)

I've always maintained that my fascination with the Bloods and my hatred for the color BLU was driven by the combat training I received playing Team Fortress 2. Although I'm too chicken shit to join a real gang, I wonder if I can sue for punitive character damages...

Re:I knew it wasn't me! (1, Redundant)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270356)

The article tries to make guilds sound "cool" by comparing them to violent street gangs, even though gangs and guilds are just cases of infantile "nyah-nyah, we're cooler than you are" schoolyard children.

Only the gangs drink malt liquor and go on raids in real life.

Not just gangs (2, Insightful)

jaggeh (1485669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269664)

Different games can generate different models

Eve Online uses a company stucture for its guilds/clans etc

However i dont think all guilds/clans/corps will evolve the same way, thats more down to the players involved and who has their hand on the collective rudder.

Using WoW to fight terrorism? (3, Funny)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269688)

Oh well, its still better than attacking Iraq when bin Laden is in Pakistan.

Re:Using WoW to fight terrorism? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30270180)

Oh well, its still better than attacking Iraq when bin Laden is in Pakistan.

Iraq wasn't attacked to find Bin Laden. Afghanistan was and Bin Laden was known to be in that area.

Re:Using WoW to fight terrorism? (0, Redundant)

brkello (642429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270584)

*whoosh*

Re:Using WoW to fight terrorism? (2, Interesting)

opiv6ix (1033966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271922)

If I had mod points I would mod you up. 60 minutes did a special with the commander of the special forces group that hunted Bin Laden. It was very interesting. Based on all the intel they had, they believed that they bombed a cave that he was in, possibly injuring him. He was presumed dead, but resurfaced months later. Amazing story to hear. Based on his telling of it, it sounded as though his higher ups tied one arm behind his back in his mission to kill Bin Laden.

When you're a Goonswarm... (2, Funny)

Nautical Insanity (1190003) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269694)

you're a goonswarm all the way, from your first corp-owned corvette to your last dying day!

Re:When you're a Goonswarm... (2, Insightful)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269820)

because once you've got goonswarm in your employment history, no one else will take you! :D

Re:When you're a Goonswarm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30270942)

And why would you want to go anywhere else? Have you SEEN some of the ship fits our enemies use? It might be t1 crap but it's well fit EFFECTIVE t1 crap.

Re:When you're a Goonswarm... (1, Informative)

evilWurst (96042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271198)

He was making reference to the West Side Story "When you're a Jet..." gang membership song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exGJsv6ZNlo [youtube.com]

Read the abstract more carefully (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269704)

First of all, the abstract acknowledges that guilds are quite UNLIKE gangs in many important respects. They are much more varied in "backgrounds, age groups, and genders" than real gangs and they are rarely based on "like-seeking" (kinship).

Secondly, there are *many* more offline groups that are more closely related to street gangs in structure and practices than guilds, and no one seems too alarmist about that. Odds are your local church, your business, your college fraternity, even many of your local civic organizations have initiations/hazing/etc. that more closely resemble that of gangs than any guild I've ever been part of. And those are *certainly* more homogeneous in "backgrounds, age groups, and genders" (like most street gangs) than any WoW guild.

In other words, guilds bear a pretty piss-poor correlation to street gangs, compared to just about any small real-world organization. I suspect the authors were either reaching here or were so hopped up on the idea of studying online guilds that they lost their way (the famous line from PCU [imdb.com] comes to mind "You can write your thesis on Gameboy if you can bullshit well enough."). And does anyone else find it academically strange that this came from a bunch of grad students in Physics?!?!?

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269788)

About the students in Physics bit: The results are often somewhat unfortunate; but there is an entire genre of papers, across a variety of subjects, generated by physicists' belief that, as long as they can develop a mathematical model, they can write on just about anything. There is a similar behavior in economists, who figure that, if they can assign dollar values to the major variables, they are on safe ground.

Sometimes the results are genuinely interesting, or even downright superior, if the area has been bogged down in excessive qualitative handwaving. Other times, you get breathtaking exercises in over-reduction, ignorant of a variety of messy details that have been common knowledge, among people who actually study the subject, for decades.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270080)

Being a physicist by education (and to some extent professionally) I could not agree more. I have to admit that some of my papers fall into that category as well with all due respect to my coauthors.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (2, Insightful)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270740)

In that case, could you explain to me why this happens? (at least in physics). Is it a lack of funding for "real" experiments, getting bored with particles and phase transitions, pursuing their own interests, or what? Also, do you know how articles like this fit into the tenure game? It doesn't bother me so much when physicists get into life science problems (lets be honest, biology is getting more quantitative). However, as a cognitive/neural scientist grad student, it drives me nuts when I read papers where physicists try and tackle cognition or philosophy because it is pretty clear they have no idea what they are talking about. Don't mind them doing the neural stuff because they tend to have a good grasp on signal processing/information theory stuff, as well as dynamical systems theory.

As for economists, I'm pretty sure they just fall into the "when you only have a hammer all problems look like nails" thing.

What it's like to be a bat (1)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270126)

Thomas Nagel [wikipedia.org] famously argued against the reductionist approach of physics and other "hard science" disciplines in his paper "What is it like to be a bat? [clarku.edu] ". A rough summary of the paper is that he thinks science may be able to tell us how something works, like the echolocation abilities of a bat, but it's much harder to give an account for how it's like to actually experience something, like what echolocation actually feels like.

This is all by way of saying that you're spot on. Reductionist approaches are problematic and have widely known to be problematic for at least decades if not longer. This is not to say that reductionism is necessarily wrong - it could be the case that if we know everything physical about the world, we will know everything about the world - but it seems less and less likely to those who are not in the "hard sciences". Psychology and Neuroscience remain two distinct disciplines. You can't tell sociological phenomena simply by observing and describing in physical terms physical phenomena. And etc.

This may be an example of the latter. The sociological phenomena of groups have been well-studied by sociologists and psychologists, and we do have quite extensive explanations of group and social dynamics from these disciplines. Yet here, some physics students come in and try to study what has been studied and come to some questionable conclusions that seem to be problematic if examined from a sociological or psychological perspective (as pointed out by GP).

Re:What it's like to be a bat (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270518)

This is not to say that reductionism is necessarily wrong - it could be the case that if we know everything physical about the world, we will know everything about the world - but it seems less and less likely to those who are not in the "hard sciences".

I think of the issue as: reductionism is right, but useless. Unless we can combine the countless calculations that describe the basic physical properties of some system with enough accuracy and detail to model its emergent behavior, then we cannot develop an improved understanding of that system through reductionist means. (Which incidentally is why strong AI is never going to happen.)

Or, a Monet is just a bunch of dried oily goo on some canvas, but it's much more productive to understand it by looking at it than by precisely describing the goo with equations. And one would need to appeal to an entirely different field (cognitive neuroscience) to explain the psychology of the historical context motivating the artist; and thus the art historian's approach manages to synthesize two enormous scientific fields without even needing any math...

Re:What it's like to be a bat (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270812)

The word "problematic" makes me see red, for some reason. To me, it's just a post-modernese code word for "double-plus ungood", but it sounds more balanced and rational to the lay reader.

While I'll agree with your stance that "reductionism" is not the solution to everything, I'd disagree that it's becoming "less an less likely". Recent advances in neural imaging have drawn neurology and psychology a lot closer together, rather than farther apart.

The point of quantification is not necessarily reductionism. It may be a way to unambiguously portray existing theories. The behavior of a quantification of a theory can shed some light on the assumptions behind the theory - whether it can work or not. Being able to codify a theory means that it is, at least, internally consistent. I'm sure that there is plenty of internally consistent sociological theories, and some of them might even converge on the way that real societies operate. Examining those theories through the lens of physics can hardly be a bad thing, can it?

Re:What it's like to be a bat (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270830)

Err...psychology and neuroscience are not distinct. In fact, I'm currently in a program (one of *many*) that combines them both. The role of psychology is not to explain what it feels like to experience something or to be conscious of it. You are right in saying that endless reductionism will struggle to explain that. However, any respectable psychologist/neuroscientist knows that you won't be able to explain what colorblindness feels like from looking at an MRI scan or comparing results on a color discrimination task. Yet there is a definite relation between behavior and what is going on in the nervous system, ergo by understanding neural substrates of a phenomenon one can shed some light on why the behavior happens.

And yeah, we are pretty sick of physicists arrogance that they can just march in and start doing what we have spent our entire academic lives trying to learn.

Re:What it's like to be a bat (1)

Acer500 (846698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271034)

Thanks for the links, it's something we've argued with some friends some times, it's nice to have some actual papers on the subject :)

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270206)

I think you're totally off-base in your analysis. You forgot to take the square root of the hand-waving coefficient.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270536)

Hence the Spherical Cow :)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spherical_cow [wikipedia.org]

Physicists are an amusing group of people. More fun than mathematicians, less useful than engineers. They are the "magic" between the concept of the wheel and the implementation of a steel-belted radial.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271700)

I should point out that economists have squat to do with assigning dollar values. Economics is ultimately a study of decision making based on scarcity. If anything it is a field of study that seeks to represent human behavior and decision making using math and graphs.

For all of the intellectual superiority that comes out of slashdot there is a stunning lack of understanding of what economics is and how it works.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269852)

Secondly, there are *many* more offline groups that are more closely related to street gangs in structure and practices than guilds, and no one seems too alarmist about that.

Huh, I didn't get a real feeling of alarmist views from this article but I could not get access to the paper. Was there something in there calling out for the dissolution of such WoW guilds because they resemble gangs/terrorists? I thought the point was that they could better study and predict gangs and terrorist organizations by looking at the formation, nature and qualities of online guilds? If that's so, maybe this isn't such a bad research area and maybe Blizzard and the like should open up certain sets of data?

I was a bit skeptical of the 'terrorist' claims (as I am whenever I hear that word) and it's probably just fishing for VC or funding. But the real place I could see this helping the world is briefly mentioned in the article: Central and South American authorities have localized places that are ruled by gangs. I've heard gang violence in Caracas is epic and it would benefit everyone to stop that from spreading. I've also heard that El Salvadorean gangs are a real problem ... not sure though. From a US Nationalistic perspective, even Mexico would be nice to clean up too so the need-to-build-a-fence xenophobes shut their wordholes.

And does anyone else find it academically strange that this came from a bunch of grad students in Physics?!?!?

Well, that professor runs Complexity and Biological Physics [miami.edu] which strives for life sciences applications of physics. Now, it may sound odd but I would imagine physicists are some of the best modelers of complex systems (like atomic and chemical reactions) and honestly might be the best suited for attempting to model actors in a very large system. I don't know, looking at Dr. Johnson's papers, he's all over the road [miami.edu] . Either he's a really well diversified physicist or he's seeking for a new field to be a big fish in. I would give him the benefit of the doubt seeing as how he's continually being published (better than most professors).

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (4, Interesting)

Xacid (560407) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269934)

One use I could perhaps see what they'd could use this research for is to justify offering something of either deterrence or rehabilitation through the use of guilds. Give guys who feel a need to belong and a need to whack shit with a weapon and you could *maybe* have something of a replacement with something like WoW. Hey, it's a stretch, but it's all I got. Worth noting: I have a little brother who seems to not mind the juvenile justice system all that much and is a relatively frequent visitor - however, once I got him into gaming and into things like Tribes, Priston Tale, and whatnot where clans/guilds existed his desire to go outside and henceforth get into trouble dropped significantly. Granted, it's just a patch for other socio/economic issues, but it could still have a somewhat positive effect. I'd much rather lazy gamers than violent gang members.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

Taevin (850923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271514)

The only thing this study is likely to be used for outside of the realm of research is a talking point for some conservative radio or television show.

Up next: We've talked about it before, about how these online games can lead to social probelms, and now a new study shows that people playing online games often form groups that resemble *violent gangs*. We'll talk with our experts to learn how this might be affecting your children. More after the break.

Read the areticle more carefully (1)

lapsed (1610061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269900)

The authors are interested in the underlying social mechanism [wordpress.com] that drives group formation.
They compare two competing theories -- homophily or that like attracts like, and a theory that group formation is driven by a search for compliments -- and conclude that the latter drives group formation in *both* gangs and guilds.
From the article:

Specifically, we used detailed empirical data sets to show that the observed dynamics in two very distinct forms of human activity—one offline activity which is widely considered as a public threat and one online activity which is by contrast considered as relatively harmless—can be reproduced using the same, simple model of individuals seeking groups with complementary attributes; i.e., they want to form a team as opposed to seeking groups with similar attributes homophilic kinship. Just as different ethnicities may have different types of gangs in the same city in terms of their number, size, and stability, the same holds for the different computer servers on which online players play a given game.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269940)

I didn't even read the TFA, but there might be even something intresting in it.

If you can find something predictable in the behaviour in social groups that far apart as Guilds and Gangs, you might be up to something fundamental, that might allow to predict the behaviour of groups that are less well studied.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270000)

I always knew there was something strange at the local church. They must be a gang.

Where is this hazing church? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30270010)

Any church that promotes hazing must be an awesome church.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270296)

In other words, guilds bear a pretty piss-poor correlation to street gangs, compared to just about any small real-world organization.

This is actually a plus: they have found a single, rather simple, underlying mathematical model that can be used to account for the formation dynamics of two quite different types of human group, and the model is not a simple "like-seeks-like" idea, but rather a "team formation" thing that includes the value of diversity of skills amongst group members.

I agree that this is an odd thing to be found in Phys. Rev. E, but on the other hand: dynamics are dynamics, and we can learn things from simplistic mathematical models just as well as we can from simplistic non-mathematical models (and if you think the models used by math-phobic social scientists aren't simplistic, you aren't sufficiently conversant with the social sciences.)

Disclaimer: I am a physicist who has worked professionally in several fields, particularly genomics, and found that the underlying concepts used by physicists to build mathematical models of complex systems are applicable to complex systems that don't happen to be "physical systems" in the usual sense of the term. Like I said, dynamics is dynamics, and there's not one shred of evidence that the dynamics of human systems are any more complex than the dynamics of viscous flows, say.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

arrogance (590092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270310)

Whether or not physicists will come to valid scientific or academic conclusions on soft arts (sociology, psychology), or whether the conclusions of this study are valid, at least one of the authors is recognizable as someone with quite a bit of credibility in a nascent field. He is a contributing author at http://terranova.blogs.com/ [blogs.com] where many Virtual academics reside (e.g., Edward Castranova and Richard Bartle, who are contributing to legal and sociological aspects of Virtual Worlds) and he created and maintained a (now hibernating) website, The Daedalus Project ( http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/ [nickyee.com] ) , which explored the sociology of MMORPGs.

Check his bio at http://www.nickyee.com/ [nickyee.com] I'd say he's worth listening to, at least WRT virtual groups. And maybe so are some of the other contributors.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270762)

One thing that is similar - some guilds (especially hard core ones) its not uncommon for members to have your contact info. Once in - its hard to step away without someone calling you and asking where you've been. You don't leave on vacation without telling them for instance.

Street gangs are Hard Core. (1)

1%warren (78514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271020)

"In other words, guilds bear a pretty piss-poor correlation to street gangs, compared to just about any small real-world organization."

You would have to compare street gangs to "Hard Core" guilds. They are comparing one standard deviation to the entire bell curve.

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271318)

Odds are your local church...organizations have initiations/hazing/etc.

Church Member #1: Do it. I dare ya.
Initiate: Do you know what'll happen to me?!
CM #2: Don't be a wuss. We all had to do it. We're okay.
Initiate: No, seriously guys. I can't. Have you seen what happened in the movie...
CM #1: Indiana Jones isn't real. Now...just drink the holy water. DO IT!

Re:Read the abstract more carefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30271722)

And does anyone else find it academically strange that this came from a bunch of grad students in Physics?!?!?

What made you conclude they are a bunch of grad students in Physics? While some of them are associated with physics departments, Dr Johnson has been a professor for 18 years. Dr Ducheneaut and Dr Yee work at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) and are known in the field of online social interaction. Dr. Tita is a professor of Criminology at UC Irvine.

They're not just a bunch of grad students trying to write a paper about their hobby. Though I agree that it would make a funny http://www.phdcomics.com/ cartoon.

to everything, churn, churn, churn... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30269706)

dubai? do buy? boeing, boeing, gone? planet core overheating? an upside DOWn kingdumb? (no personal reference intended)

stay tuned, the lights are coming up all over now.

gangstas (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30269748)

Anyone who plays WoW is a gansta anyway.

Re:gangstas (2, Funny)

tha_toadman (1266560) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270122)

Leeeeeeeroooooooy Jjjjenkins!

So do think that real life 'ganstas' have nerds that compute the "percentage of survival" if they do a drive by shooting?

"Uhhhhh yeah, gimme a sec...I'm coming up with 32.33 uh repeating of course"

Re:gangstas (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270774)

Man, if your IN THE CAR on a drive by and your chance of survival is only 32.33.... um... WTF?

Does your driver suck that bad? Are you trying to pull a drive by at the front gates of a military base?

I would think that you would be much closer to 95%

Teams as well (3, Interesting)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269754)

The relation I've noticed (being a soccer player) is with soccer teams. I've seen the exact same cycles of drama and team splits. Its just like an online guild, but in slow motion (as they don't spend as much time together in a week).

lulz (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269768)

Am I the only one trying to imagine what it would be like if the Fancy Lads started beef with the Crips?

Re:lulz (2, Funny)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269854)

Short fight; the Crips are fantastic DPS but have terrible healers.

Tanks (1)

Myrcutio (1006333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270958)

Good thing they don't have any decent tanks, South Park might be in trouble.

Re:lulz (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269946)

>if the Fancy Lads started beef with the Crips?
OK, I really need to re-educate my taste buds. I read that as something to do with lard and chips (French Fries) and my first thought was 'Mmmm... chips....'

just surprised people still play WoW (1)

_14k4 (5085) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269808)

Really. I tried it again after a year off, and yeah, the graphics are great and play on ANYTHING these days, however it just doesn't have the same hold as it used to. I'm playing Eve now, and yeah, it's grindy (all grinding, really) but it seems a bit more "adult" - maybe that's just it. The trial for EQ2 is going well, and that even seems a bit more adult, too.

Gangs are gangs. I've never done well in raid situations as I tend to get toned out (firefighter) for calls when we're about to enter the instance, etc. I'm always "that guy" who goes linkdead...

Re:just surprised people still play WoW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30270792)

Reality Check: you are playing an online agame and worried about feeling like an adult. Sorry, but you are doing something very child like, playing make believe. Just give in and have fun like a kid if you are going to play like a kid.

Re:just surprised people still play WoW (1)

_14k4 (5085) | more than 4 years ago | (#30272232)

Hey, tool, you missed the point.

I'd like to play make-pretend but at the same time have adult conversation (read: chatroom with a broadsword); I'd not like to deal with leet speak and spam about how much that new toon wants to have sexors with me.

Re:just surprised people still play WoW (1)

wtbname (926051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271214)

Is that you Steve? Bill and I are coming over to your house, you better has some fucking answers for us.

Nobody leaves [Bloodhound Gang].

Nobody.

Gangs, terrorist-cells, project teams.... (1)

tomzyk (158497) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269848)

So, you're saying that the group of people I am working with on this data-warehousing project are also a "guild-like" (and therefore "gang-like") group?

And no, I didn't rtfa because it already sounds sensationalistic... and also because I don't feel the urge to pay to read the PDF.

bad timing (1)

jmknsd (1184359) | more than 4 years ago | (#30269864)

I have to give a presentation on a mathematical model today, and I am just now hearing about this; does anyone have a link to a paper they wrote or more information?

I googled it while previewing my comment and found a pdf presentation:
http://carbon.videolectures.net/2009/other/ccss09_zurich/johnson_bnb/ccss09_johnson_bnb_01.pdf [videolectures.net]

Ever tried to leave a real gang? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30269930)

I don't see any parallels between real gangs and guilds, especially because leaving a guild isn't normally considered treason and doesn't put you (or your avatar) in any (virtual) danger. You can switch guilds as often as you like, no one cares.

Re:Ever tried to leave a real gang? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30270594)

Depends, try grabbing as much expensive stuff possible from the guildbank before leaving :p

Ummm (1)

chabotc (22496) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270090)

So does that mean that because I was a guild leader of a high profile WoW guild, I would also be qualified to lead an LA gang?

Sure does open a whole new set of career oppertunities

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30270204)

Corpse Camping Granny?

paper availabe at arxiv (1)

j-beda (85386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270188)

Whoops - should have linked to the paper at arxiv.org:

http://arxiv.org/abs/0812.2299 [arxiv.org]

other studies on group dynamics (4, Informative)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270248)

You might be interested: Robber's Cave Experiment [wikipedia.org]

Another (not a scientific) study: The Third Wave [wikipedia.org]

Are they sure? (1)

furiousxgeorge (1273392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270434)

Guilds are forced to build teams in WoW because that is what the game requires. You can't win any of the raids with a team of 25 rogues.

Re:Are they sure? (2, Funny)

SmurfButcher Bob (313810) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271102)

Well, you can... but one way or the other, the fights will be over really, really fast :)

One Man Terrorist (1)

the_mushroom_king (708305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270458)

One mans terrorists is another mans raid buddy.

Suicidesalution whispers, "Hey Xjihadcowx, wanna do ToC 25 man?"

Xjihadcowx whispers, "Is Osama leading?"

Suicidesalution whispers, "Nah, he at a Starbucks in Vancouver but says internet there sucks."

Xjihadcowx whispers, "That sucks. Yeah I'll go send me an invite."

no login to PDF (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30270528)

Awesome....post a story that requires a login to download the PDF.

Provide a link to the file that works please

You are paying for beign studied (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271040)

WoW players in US cyberspace - over 76,000 were studied from June to December 2005 - are evenly divided between men and women, aged between five and 95...

1 - Develop MMOG
2 - Get people to pay for playing and buying pixel-made goods with real money
3 - Sell user behavior data to whoever wants to pay you an extra
4 - Profit++

Groups of people (2, Interesting)

heidaro (1392977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271374)

I find that WoW guilds often resemble political parties. They have drama, scandals, split ups and disbands, just like in politics. Then again, it's a group of people, and a group of people is a group of people, regardless of location.

Ummmm.OK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30271568)

Let's see - I play WOW and love it, and so does my daughter and my younger son. We play on avg. about 4-10 hours/week (depending on raids, instance runs, PUG needs, etc). We also use Vent to chat with the "real" people on the other end of our guild. Most if not all are married, have at least a kid or two and we all liked to play D&D when we were younger. WOW has become a great outlet to really get involved in a story and team effort - which is made possible by the basic concept of MMORPG's. so, this article really then, suggests that because our guild is successful (over 30 LVL 80's with all purple gear) that we could also overthrow the US Govt, or stage a bank robbery, or pull helpless truckers from their rigs in broad daylight to bludgeon and then steal their trucks??? Now, I could be wrong, but perhaps "someone" perceives this as a threat in some psycho-babble, macro-ignorant ploy to undermine for their own interests, what has to be one of the greatest games I've ever played or somewhere in the food chain there's significant profit sitting somewhere. Is it not the same to take a team of 20 boys & girls and coach and mentor them in soccer, and provide a website for them to check schedules, send emails to one another and yes, fog goodness sake - get to know the other teammates more than just on the field??? What if the coach is a child molester or a socio-path???? We're talking non-present, non-physical contact - and REALLY, if I wanted to establish a terrorist organization I probably wouldn't choose WOW to start making my plans on (BTW - Blizzard watches over all and sees all_
Times have changed, parents need to be more cautious and careful what happens online - but none of this even compares to the real life threat we potentiall face every day.
For every 1(one) case of child molestation ONLINE, there are another 20 that happen every second in REAL LIFE - so please focus your energies, your perceptions and your ignorant placement of labels elsewhere besides good natured, normal folks who like to play online.

All from China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30271650)

If you read the article, then actually find out more about the writers of it - they're not from the USA, but rather China. Doesn't China sensor Google and turn off servers when someone has a moment of free speech, or when more than two gather in the Square before the human-crushing tanks are called in? Gotta be joking me - this harkens back to the day when the idiom "Well, he told me to so I did it"? Just because someone offers an "opinion" DOES NOT mean it is law, a given or needs to be read or followed - it is simply just that, someone needing to finish their doctoral thesis on something that pissed them off, because maybe they always get ninja'd in WOW and now have a bad attitude. Serves you right for calling your toon - Chen Tzu'Wan - Simply an idiotic article and a waste of time once you see who the "doctors" are. I just hope no one paid to have this "study" done. I have a suggestion - a study to study doctor's from other countries who attempt to hack the WOW servers worldwide, that come from a country known for it's high-level of hacking (CHINA)> Did you know that the CIA and FBI agents returning from China MUST destroy their laptops upon return to the USA for fear of being infiltrated with "bugs" and various nasties that could hack our internal networks???? Look it up, it's true and CNN and Fox did a piece about a month ago about it.

Freakanomics (1)

Orne (144925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271816)

That's funny, because Freakanomics [amazon.com] tells us that large gangs tend to act like corporations...

And so what we find when we look carefully is that the gang organization looks a whole lot like a typical corporate structure, a lot like McDonald's in some sense. And so just like McDonald's, it turns out there's a handful of guys at the top who are very successful who run the gang, who are bringing home, you know, mid to high six-figure salaries, but the 90 percent of the guys who are working in the gang are the young kids who are selling drugs on the street corner that it turns out they're getting paid roughly minimum wage for standing on the street corner and selling the drugs. -- Steven Levitt, NPR Interview [npr.org]

I think EVE Online bears this out, how a loosely coupled group of independent yet incentivised players can collectively make a place for themselves in a larger social space. Those larger groups then snap at each other for domination, and it's all the same "game" be it in virtual worlds, social worlds, or economic worlds.

Phys. Rev. E?? (1)

jsternbe (703721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271920)

It is kind of a interesting paper, but how in the world did it get into Physical Review? Just because you do some statistics doesn't mean you are doing research in physics. Shouldn't this have been sent to a sociology journal?

Yo yo! (1)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271930)

Yo yo! U shoulda seen that lich mutha****a go down. I busted out my +5 holy burst repeating crossbow gat and put a S in his chest so hard his momma felt it. Me an' my homies is some bad mutha****as, terrorizin tha' Menechtarun hood.

I'm sure no one has thought of this before... (1)

Jhyrryl (208418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30271974)

http://www.crimecraft.com/

Not the same (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30272226)

You can't join a street gang from your mom's basement.
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