29. A View from Computer Science

From Solitude to Ambient Sociability – Redefining the Social and Psychological Aspects of Isolation in Online Games

  1. Robert J. Coplan and
  2. Julie C. Bowker
  1. Nicolas Ducheneaut and
  2. Nicholas Yee

Published Online: 6 DEC 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118427378.ch29

The Handbook of Solitude: Psychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, Social Withdrawal, and Being Alone

The Handbook of Solitude: Psychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, Social Withdrawal, and Being Alone

How to Cite

Ducheneaut, N. and Yee, N. (2013) A View from Computer Science, in The Handbook of Solitude: Psychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, Social Withdrawal, and Being Alone (eds R. J. Coplan and J. C. Bowker), John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ. doi: 10.1002/9781118427378.ch29

Author Information

  1. Computer Science Laboratory, Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto, CA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 6 DEC 2013
  2. Published Print: 23 DEC 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118427361

Online ISBN: 9781118427378

SEARCH

Keywords:

  • online games;
  • ambient sociability;
  • player personality;
  • survey;
  • large-scale data mining

Summary

In this chapter, we use data collected from World of Warcraft (WoW) to examine the social impacts of online multiplayer gaming. We describe broad patterns of sociability in WoW, focusing on social interactions in the groups and guilds formed by the players to collaborate with each other. We then look at differences in play patterns between users with different socio-psychological profiles, in order to tease out the impact of individual factors on WoW's social life. Consistent with the theme of this handbook, we pay particular attention in both cases to social isolation, highlighting if, when, and where our data supports the notion that online games may promote solitude. As will become apparent, we believe instead that online games promote new forms of “ambient sociability” where solitude can be experienced on purpose, for its own sake and with beneficial impacts due to unique properties of these electronic communities.