How might we reconnect online communities from games, that for reasons of limitations or fragility are now inactive, unpopular or dead?
ROLE: Producer, Researcher, Visual Designer
DURATION: 2 months | March - May 2019
ADVISOR: Geoff Kaufman
TEAM: Adin Adler, Adela Kapuścińska, Olivia Lynn, Aaron Meyers, Elizabeth Wang
00 — CONTRIBUTIONS
As Producer, I kept the project on track. I supported the team in realizing our vision, communicating with experts and client, and keeping our scope.
As Visual Designer, I helped devise the goals of our prototype and integrate our research findings. I collaborated on the UI Design, specifically, working on wireframing.
01 — BACKGROUND
I’m fascinated by the transient nature of online gaming communities. While much research has been into the forging and benefits of such relationships, their loss is much less discussed. For that reason, my inquiry and this project focused on MMORPGs that are inactive, unpopular or dead. What would it be like to reconnect with those people and celebrate those experiences?
I wrote a short piece on this topic here: How do we grieve online gaming communities?
02 — RESEARCH
We reached out to the online gaming communities through social media with surveys to gain a better understanding of user wants and needs. We collected data on user stories and nostalgia around games.
We looked into other social apps that were made to find people or gaming groups. Most of these apps focused on developing new friendships. These apps were targeted at people without a community of friends in their games and only targeted games with large player bases.
Our literature review provided us with important insights for the purpose of the design process:
There is inherent value for the user in reviving dormant ties. Studies show that reconnecting with someone you lost contact with creates more novelty and value than engaging with an active friendship.
Dormant Ties: The Value of Reconnecting (Levin, D. Z., Walter, J., & Murnighan, J. K. 2011.)
Personalized social messages are effective at reviving social ties.
It takes ~2.5 months to restore "quality of engagement" for over half of ties.
Reviving Dormant Ties in an Online Social Network Experiment (Lim, E. P., Correa, D., Lo, D., Finegold, M., & Zhu, F. 2013, June.)
Reconnection = more common for midlife adults. Our target audience likely is not connected by social media, so it is unclear if this applies.
We Haven’t Talked in 30 Years! Relationship Reconnection and Internet Use in Midlife (Quinn, K. 2013.)
Getting shown the rules of a community before a user is allowed to post/respond is important.
Layers of moderation are required to be effective in a community.
Moderator engagement and community development in the age of algorithms (Seering, J., Wang, T., Yoon, J., & Kaufman, G. 2019.)