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‘If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun’: A study on the rules of guilds and clans in online games

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How groups create and sustain internal social order is a general topic of interest to researchers in game studies. In this field, most research has looked at social order processes during game play, while little attention has been directed at groups of players such as guilds in massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) or clans in first-person shooters (FPS) in between game sessions. Groups are not dissolved between gaming sessions, nor are all rules implicit. This article explores the way groups of players create and sustain order within their groups between games as well as by using explicit norm declarations. Starting from the most common descriptions of rules in social and behavioural science literature this article analyses the public announcements in group forums of the rules, twenty guilds and ten clans playing either MMOGs or FPS games have published. Not surprisingly, both genre and player motivation play a large role in the selection and creation of rules for guilds and clans. One of the most common types of behaviour addressed in the guild/clan rules, ‘griefing’, needs a more sophisticated analysis than used in previous game research. Finally, a list of ‘game commandments’ that summarize the rule sets from both guilds and clans is presented. This article positions user-created rules as implicit rules made explicit and also indicates a need for a thorough investigation of how players make sense of their social sphere online.
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Keywords: FPS; MMOGs; clans; guilds; online games; rules

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Stockholm University

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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  • The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.
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