The Varying Structures and Social Influences of Online Gaming Communities


  • Dominik Hinkleman Tennessee Tech University


There are many types of online gaming communities which often operate and are structured very different from real world groups. The purpose of this study is to investigate the interactions of online communities and how their structure and social interactions differ from real world groups and communities, as well as the relationships between their members through the use of different forms of communication media.  The communities of interest focused on Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG), and investigated the stigma of online gaming being seen as anti-social, which has been found to be the opposite. The concept of Real Money Trade (RMT) in competitive games was also more prevalent than expected.

The structure and influence of online community interaction is an area that has been investigated partially but changes in communication technology and trends require newer investigations and information. As technology continues to advance, simple groups (Nardi and Harris 2006) and people constantly adapt to these changes in communication which create social environments structured much different and more advanced than before (Fernback 2007). These social groups and communities can be very different from real world groups. Further research between the similarities and differences of online and offline groups is important.

The varying types of online communication platforms and technologies that are being used to communicate between individuals and groups also affect these social interactions. The individual users’ experiences within different online gaming communities will also varies as each community has their own unique members and viewpoints which can change due to the factors of time, current video game and offline life, but each is involved in a highly social environment.