Testing Social Theory in CMC through Gaming and Simulation
Simulation & Gaming, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 174-194, June 2006
21 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2007
Information is a critical component of commercial transactions. Our games, the LEMONADE STAND and HULIA, and simulation, AUCTION SIMULATION, represent a variety of computerized commercial situations where information may be actively shared or traded or passively available as part of the transaction. These games and simulation served as research tools for testing a variety of social theories aiming to offer some explanations for information behavior in online spaces and its subsequent effect on the commercial transactions taking place. We demonstrate, using the analytical sciences approach, how computerized games and simulations are used to study and validate theoretical constructs in networked environments. Ownership status provided an explanation for information buying and selling practices as well as the willingness to share it using LEMONADE STAND variations based on the theories of the Endowment Effect and Mere Ownership Effect. A model representing several group information sharing theories receives support using HULIA, the supply-chain management game. Social Presence and Media Richness Theories as well as normative and informational influence show a distinct effect on auction performance using AUCTION SIMULATION. Validating a variety of theories using three different artifacts, while acknowledging their strengths and limitations, shows promise for the continued development of games and simulations as important instruments for the analytical sciences approach.
Keywords: business games, computer-mediated communication, information sharing, information trading
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