Assigned Text: Ex 4: Article Analysis

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Article: "Tragedies of the ludic commons-understanding cooperation in multiplayer games" by Jonas Heide Smith

Author's Thesis: "To argue that multiplayer gaming, with certain qualifications, is comparable to real-life social interaction and to enable the problems identified to be framed as social dilemmas which have been studied explicitly for decades and less formally for millennia."

Supporting Evidence:
  • Smith addresses collective action, which is a concept that the a certain resource benefits an entire social group. The problem arises when we consider that there may be those who choose to enjoy the benefits of a resource without any contribution.
  • As an example Smith mentions an analysis by an economist named H. Scott Gordon in 1954. Gordon studied the behavior of fisherman who did not adhere to the quota for fishing in their area. The main point he made was that these fisherman sought to increase their stock without limit in the bounds of a limited world.
  • The author identifies three social dilemmas affecting multiplayer gaming: cheating, grief play, and irresponsible participation
      • Smith talks about cheating in the online game Diablo. It was found that roughly 35% of the player base admitted to cheating, but 89% of those who admitted to cheating wished they were unable to. An example of conflicting moral dilemma in which the collective good is ignored for personal gain.
      • Grief play was addressed in both an MMORGP and FPS setting. In the FPS example Smith talked about team killing. He mentions that the collective resource may not necessarily be destroyed; however, the game would lose its attraction, much like a soccer game where all players try to keep the ball in their own goal.
      • Here Smith talks about a game that depends on the participation of all those who choose to be involved. Age of Kings is used as an example here, in which an irresponsible participant chooses to join a game when he is aware of his limited time. His participation balances the game, and leaving early disturbs the experience of everyone involved. If everyone chose this path the collective resource of good is obviously diminished.
  • Smith quotes gamers who have posted on forums to support his main idea. An example of one quote he used from the Age of Kings forums was, "it's scum like them that make the Zone [where AoK players go for online play] a miserable place to be. Hacks can be used to give yourself inordinate ratings..."
  • Also he quotes Thomas Hardin from a scientific article entitled "The Tragedy of the Commons" to emphasize the concern with personal gain without regard to the community surroundings.
Alternative Ideas
  • The article opens the paper with the line "Conflict, it is often assumed, is the essence of games. Modern multiplayer games, however, also rely heavily on the cooperation between players." He immediately works against himself to begin supporting his point.
  • He continues to mention that the observation that gamers much cooperate in order to co-exist in games has not always been acknowledged, and has rather focused on its player conflicts.
  • Accepts collective action theory as an effective application to the study of game theory, even though it has not been successful to date. Basically because these central ideas affect a large range of community matters it explains in-game social tension.
Sources against author
  • Most of the opposing information was provided at the beginning of the article with no mention of source. Smith uses a general overview rather than specifics to begin building his argument.
Traditional Review
  • This article was extremely different from a traditional review. None of the games mentioned were "reviewed" or even attempted to be advertised to the reader. This article was more of a way to connect real-life interaction and in game interaction.
New Games Journalism
  • This article was also very different from a New Games Journalism article. This particular article sought to connect a similar situation found in games and real-life. The author does not explicitly share his personal experiences with the reader, but rather uses existing works and examples from the gaming community to support his argument.
Smith, Jonas."Tragedies of the ludic commons - understanding cooperation in multiplayer games." Game Studies      Vol 7 Issue 1. Aug 2007. The International Journal of Computer Game Research.15 Jan. 2008.


The phrase "is comparable to" is a bit vague -- anything is comparable to anything. You could say that apples contain more water by volume and are therefore less nutritious than oranges, and you could say that oranges only grow in warmer climates and therefore the orange economy is more dependent on a network of interstate highways, but saying "apples are comparable to oranges" is pretty vague.

Otherwise, I think you've got the right idea on how to find value in an academic source. The phrase "The International Journal of Computer Game Research" is part of the periodical title, so it doesn't belong there where you've placed it.

Those are minor nitpicks -- I can see that you've done a good job identifying the value contained in this article, and so you seem quite ready to move to the next step of preparing for your term paper. (Please post your exercise to when you get the chance, and I'll report your grade there.)

Brandon Gnesda said:

Hey Dr. Jerz thanks for the feedback!
Could you possibly post a revised works cited so that I understand the change.

Thank You.

I left more feedback on I do want to help you absorb the material, butI'm reluctant simply to correct this entry for you.... the saying among teachers is "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, and he won't go hungry." So, rather than give you this fish, I'd rather make sure you've got a fishing pole -- which, for us, would be the writing handbook that was assigned for Basic Comp and/or STW, which has a whole chapter on MLA style citations.

Since spacing and formatting are important, and this comment box will likely mess those up, let me just refer you to the "Marsh, Kelly A." example on this page:

Please let me know if that helps. I think you can work this one out.

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