Frequently asked questions about the MMO research project
Who are you?
We are 15 college undergraduates enrolled in a course
on massively multiplayer on-line games at Trinity
University in San Antonio,
Texas. We have been playing Everquest II for the
past four months, with characters ranging in level from 10 to
30. Our primary characters are members of the guild The Vindicators on the Antonia Bayle server.
What are you doing?
We are using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods
to explore sociological issues associated with massively multiplayer
virtual worlds. Each student in the class is pursuing a different
research question. Topics include: player assumptions about character appearance, the motivation for gaming as evil characters, educational applications of virtual worlds, generational dynamics in on-line play, the use of MMOs for psychotherapy, the newbie experience, social functions of guild membership, and the ways in which virtual worlds might affect our dreams.
Who will see these results?
At the end of the semester, we will share our findings with Everquest II players and with the broader community of gamers.
All student papers and presentations will be linked to the course
site and made available to anyone with an Internet connection. We will also post links to the papers in the web log Terra Nova and affiliated forums.
Have you had any training in research ethics?
Yes. We have studied ethical principles guiding social science
research, and we have paid close attention to the grey-areas surrounding
data collection in virtual worlds. We have been tested on our
knowledge of these issues, and each student has formulated a checklist
of questions for evaluating the ethical parameters of his or her
Has this course been reviewed by the human subjects board at
Yes. This course has been formally approved by the Institutional
Review Board (IRB) at Trinity University.
What principles guide your research?
We are committed to several guiding principles:
- We will approach all members of the gaming community with
respect and honesty.
- We will obtain informed consent from all who chose to participate
in the study.
- We will not divulge or report any information shared in private
conversations without obtaining explicit approval from the
person being quoted.
- We guarantee confidentiality to all study participants.
- We guarantee anonymity to all participants who do not wish
to have their identities made public. This means that we will
preserve the anonymity of game players and their game characters
by using pseudonyms and removing all identifying information
from the transcripts.
- We will not do anything that could potentially harm participants.
- We will not interview anyone under the age of 18 without
receiving explicit parental consent.
- We will give something back to the community by making our
results available at the end of the semester.
If I have further questions, who should I contact?
If you have any questions or concerns about this project, please
contact the course instructor (Dr. Aaron Delwiche) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
governing the use of human subjects in research. Excerpt
from the Institutional Review Board policy guidelines at
decisionmaking and Internet research." Recommendations
from the working committee of the Association of Internet
constitutes 'ethical participant observation' in MMOG ethnography?" Discussion
thread in Terra Nova initiated by Constance
Steinkuehler on October 15, 2004.