[Space and Place] Third Places in games

Nicolas Ducheneaut will present a paper about "Designing for sociability in massively multiplayer games: an examination of the “third places” of SWG " at "the other players" conference in Copenhagen. It seems quite interesting:

hile massively multiplayer games are often touted as successful social environments, it is only recently that game designers have started to develop models and techniques for encouraging interactions between players. One of the most recent examples of “sociability by design” in MMORPGs is Star Wars Galaxies (SWG). In particular, SWG is organized so that players are steered towards certain game locations where sociability is expected to take place. In this paper we critically examine player-to-player interactions in one of these locations: the cantinas. Based on several months of ethnographic observations and computerized data collection, we use Oldenburg’s notion of “third places” to evaluate whether or not these cantinas fit existing definitions of sociable environments. This allows us to formulate several design recommendations for the design of future MMOs.

The way he works he close to our project, except that our focus is more directed toward socio-cognitive processes:

Based on a combination of ethnography, interviewing, and automated data collection, we hope to uncover the social mechanics of MMOGs and eventually impact their design.