Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Productive play: Exploring participant motivations of a modding community surrounding a massively multiplayer online game
by Ellis, Eric, Ed.D., Pepperdine University, 2014, 159; 3667191
Abstract (Summary)

The phenomenon of user-generated content and modification for video games, known as modding, is increasingly common, but why individuals are motivated to engage in significant work for no pay is still poorly understood. Drawing upon the Communities of Practice theories proposed by Jean Lave and Ettienne Wenger, this paper explored the similarities and differences between a community of addon software developers for Blizzard Entertainment's popular Massively Multiplayer Online Game, World of Warcraft, and other Free/Open Source Software communities. Through a series of ethnographic interviews, and an online survey of addon developers, research found the addon development community describes itself primarily as devoted game players rather than software developers, motivated primarily by a desire to fill personal in-game needs, and only later, by the more unclear rewards of contributing to the Community of Practice surrounding addon development.

Similarly, though addon developers have a strong affinity with many practices and attitudes toward intellectual property espoused by F/OSS communities, they have ultimately coalesced around shared practices which encourage and honor individual ownership of intellectual property, rather than more "free" distribution models. Considering these findings, a new understanding emerges for a specific type of Community of Practice, termed a Community of Passion, that allows future research to more clearly identify and describe a playful and passionate approach to productive activity increasingly seen not only in online gaming communities, but also in other settings such as the emergent Maker communities where creativity and democratized production are valued.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Polin, Linda
Commitee: Ludgate, Holly, Riel, Margaret
School: Pepperdine University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Information Technology
Keywords: Collaborative work, Community of passion, Community of practice, Online gaming communities, Open source software, Social learning theory
Publication Number: 3667191
ISBN: 978-1-321-41105-8
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