Thesis

Acta nøn Verba: the ethnographic study of a World of Warcraft guild as an affinity group

The purpose of this research is to observe and document the learning practices of affinity
 groups known as guilds and their functions within collaborative virtual spaces. This ethnographic
 study follows a guild known as Acta nøn Verba as they progress during the “Warlords of
 Draenor” expansion. The primary methodology used when conducting this research included
 utilizing participant-observation structures to document and analyze the affinity group during the
 gameplay and conducting semi-structured interviews with members of the guild. The data that
 was collected while observing the gameplay of the guild illustrated the ways in which affinity
 groups function within massive virtual spaces like World of Warcraft. Since the scale of this
 virtual space was so extensive, the researcher relied on Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory
 (ANT) in order to show the relationship between the learning networks that both individual
 members and the affinity group engaged in, and the central actors that were observed within
 these networks including language and literacy development, cultural norms, cognitive distribution, digital trust and respect, outside research methods, and the importance of leadership
 roles. The work that came out of this study has implications for the ways in which affinity groups
 are structured within virtual spaces, and the ways in which learning practices and literacy are
 constructed and maintained within these groups.

The purpose of this research is to observe and document the learning practices of affinity groups known as guilds and their functions within collaborative virtual spaces. This ethnographic study follows a guild known as Acta nøn Verba as they progress during the “Warlords of Draenor” expansion. The primary methodology used when conducting this research included utilizing participant-observation structures to document and analyze the affinity group during the gameplay and conducting semi-structured interviews with members of the guild. The data that was collected while observing the gameplay of the guild illustrated the ways in which affinity groups function within massive virtual spaces like World of Warcraft. Since the scale of this virtual space was so extensive, the researcher relied on Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory (ANT) in order to show the relationship between the learning networks that both individual members and the affinity group engaged in, and the central actors that were observed within these networks including language and literacy development, cultural norms, cognitive distribution, digital trust and respect, outside research methods, and the importance of leadership roles. The work that came out of this study has implications for the ways in which affinity groups are structured within virtual spaces, and the ways in which learning practices and literacy are constructed and maintained within these groups.

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