The Evolving Virtual Relationships: A Longitudinal Analysis of Player Social Networks in a Large MMOG

41 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2011

See all articles by Cuihua Shen

Cuihua Shen

University of California, Davis - Department of Communication

Peter Monge

University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Dmitri Williams

University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Date Written: September 18, 2011

Abstract

How do social networks formed in MMOGs change over time? Are online relationships merely random, short-lived encounters or lasting and substantive connections? This study aims to examine the dynamic processes of relationship formation, maintenance, and demise in online worlds. Drawing from the theoretical framework of organizational ecology and network evolution, this study focuses on the effects of three sets of evolutionary factors in the context of social relationships formed in the online game EverQuest II (EQII): the aging and maturation processes, social architecture, and homophily and proximity. A longitudinal analysis of tie persistence and decay demonstrated the transient nature of social relationships in EQII, but these ties became considerably more durable over time. Also, character level similarity, shared guild membership and geographic proximity were powerful mechanisms in preserving social relationships.

Keywords: network evolution, social networks, MMOG, link decay

JEL Classification: Z00

Suggested Citation

Shen, Cuihua and Monge, Peter and Williams, Dmitri, The Evolving Virtual Relationships: A Longitudinal Analysis of Player Social Networks in a Large MMOG (September 18, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1929908 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1929908

Cuihua Shen (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - Department of Communication ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

HOME PAGE: http://communication.ucdavis.edu/directory-of-people/featured-faculty/cuihua-cindy-shen

Peter Monge

University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism ( email )

3502 Watt Way, Suite 304
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Dmitri Williams

University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism ( email )

3502 Watt Way, Suite 304
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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