Please note: This information is outdated as my dissertation project has been completed. I am leaving this information up for the time being for those interested in the project. For more details, my dissertation can be freely accessed here. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions!
IN- AND OUT-OF-CHARACTER:
THE DIGITAL LITERACY PRACTICES AND EMERGENT INFORMATION WORLDS OF ACTIVE ROLE-PLAYERS IN A NEW MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER ONLINE ROLE-PLAYING GAME
I am Jonathan M. Hollister, a doctoral candidate from the School of Information at Florida State University. As part of my dissertation project, I am seeking to observe, role-play with, and interview active role-players in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), specifically in WildStar (www.wildstar-online.com). Please consider allowing me to participate in your guild’s RP!
I hope to explore and describe the information worlds and digital literacy practices of active role-players in MMORPGs. The research questions for my study are:
- What characterizes the information worlds of active role-players in MMORPGs?
- What social types exist in MMORPGs?
- What are the social norms of MMORPG players?
- What types of information behaviors are used?
- What types of information are valuable to MMORPG players?
- What boundaries exist in the information worlds of MMORPG players?
- To what extent do MMORPG players develop and use digital literacy skills?
- How does the theory of information worlds help explain the use of digital literacy skills in MMORPGs?
For more information on these skills, please visit the Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ website (http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework/61). If you would like more information about the concepts mentioned above please let me know.
Method & Procedure
I hope to engage with role-players as one of them through an ethnographic study as well as interview active MMORPG role-players. I am particularly interested in studying role-players in MMORPGs as they are often underrepresented in the research literature. I hope to interview with players both in-character and out-of- character within WildStar, but I will also be available via email, phone, Skype or other VOIP for out-of-character interviews outside of the game. You can do in-character or out-of-character interviews, or both based on your preferences. Interviews will last approximately 30 to 90 minutes and will be scheduled around your availability. My ethnographic observations will be collected over a 6-month period and will include audiovisual recordings, screenshots, chatlogs, and a sampling of community game sites and forums.
Of course, participation is completely voluntary and you may leave the study at any time, no questions asked. Your choice to participate or not will not have an impact on your school or work evaluations. Please let me know if you do not wish to be included.
Risks & Confidentiality
The risks associated with participation are minimal or about the same as normal MMORPG and Internet use. There is a chance that some of the interview questions could make you uncomfortable, but these may be skipped. As a responsible researcher and fellow gamer, I can assure you all that any private or personally identifiable information that comes up during the study will be kept confidential and will be kept so throughout the analysis phase of the study to the extent allowed by law. Following the conclusion of the analysis phase, all personally identifiable information will be destroyed. Any screenshots or other examples used in the publication of this data will include pseudonyms to protect your identity.
Benefits & Reimbursement
Participating in this study will help scholar better understand online role-playing in MMORPGs and potentially aid game developers to integrate features more beneficial to role-players.
If you are interviewed, you will receive up to 2 C.R.E.D.D.’s (40 USD value); C.R.E.D.D. are an in-game WildStar token that may redeemed for 1 month of game-time each or traded for gold on the in-game C.R.E.D.D. Exchange. You will receive 1 C.R.E.D.D. for one in-character or out-of-character interview, and 2 C.R.E.D.D.* if you choose to do both. You may only participate in the interviews once, earning a maximum of 2 C.R.E.D.D.’s.
*Given the limitation of 1 gifted C.R.E.D.D. per day, there may be a delay in your compensation if you choose this option.
Contact Information & Results
If you have questions or need clarification about any of the above information or your rights as a study participant, please do not hesitate to anonymously, if you desire, contact the Institutional Review Board at FSU by phone at (850) 644-7900—the HRC assurance number is FWA00000168 and the IRB number is IRB00000446. You may also contact me directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (850) 408-8018. Additionally, you can contact my major professor, Dr. Don Latham, by email at email@example.com or by calling the School of Information at (850) 644-5775 and asking for a transfer. You can also use these contacts to enquire about the research results.
Thank you for your time and participation. I will respond to your questions in this thread as well.
Jonathan M. Hollister, MSLIS