The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory: A social identity approach

Via Jamie Madigan (Psychology of Video Games), I watched two GDC 2015 talks about anti-social behaviours in video games. Jeffrey Lin (Riot Games) on the science of shaping player behavior (GDC, 2015) and Ben Lewis Evans (Player Research) on how game design influence social behavior (GDC, 2015). Both touched on parts of Internet lore, the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory (GIF; Penny Arcade, 2004). The GIF theory is often associated with the Online Disinhibition Effect (Suler, 2004), however Lin and Evans did not made any indications of applying Suler’s work. As a communication scientist, I recognized hints on a different theory: the Social Identity model of Deinidividuation Effects (SIDE). Continue reading

Computer science stereotypes as barriers to inclusion for women and how they extend to videogames

In my previous blog post, I reviewed a study on the associations between career interests and videogames preferences of which I argued the need to go deeper than just looking at associations. The study piqued my curiosity about why so few women major in STEM careers and how this affect women’s career interests with videogames (see Wikipedia). To my knowledge, most universities offer videogames design courses through computer science, a major predominantly populated by men. There are many researchers who studied the underrepresentation of women in STEM careers and they found different kinds of barriers (i.e. cultural, psychological, etc.). I will summarize studies focused on a single aspect and consider its relation to videogames, which at this point referring to interests in gaming and careers in videogames. Continue reading

Can clans protect adolescent players of massively multiplayer online games from violent behaviors? (Ybarra & boyd, 2015)

A recent study by Michele Ybarra (Center for Innovative Public Health Research) and danah boyd (Microsoft Research) has been published for February 2015 in the International Journal of Public Health. The study examine how adolescents’ membership in MMO clans or guilds affect their violent behaviors.


Objectives To examine whether clan membership mediates observed associations between violent game content and externalizing behaviors among youth who play massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs).

Methods Responses from 486 11- to 18-year-olds who: live in the United States, read English, have been online at least once in the past 6 months, and have played MMOGs in the past year were examined. Generalized estimating equations were used to estimate the population-averaged incident rate ratio of aggressive, delinquent, and seriously violent behaviors among MMOG players given one’s self-reported exposure to in-game content depicting violence.

Results Twenty-nine percent of all youth respondents played MMOGs in the past year. Rates of aggressive, IRR: 1.59, 95 % CI [1.11, 2.26], and delinquent, IRR: 1.44, 95 % CI [0.99, 2.08], behaviors were significantly higher for MMOG players who were in clans versus not in clans. For females, clan membership attenuated but did not eliminate the observed relation between exposure to in-game violent content and both aggressive and seriously violent behavior (16 % and 10 % reductions in IRR, respectively); whereas for males, clan membership was largely uninfluential (i.e., less than 2 % change).

Conclusions Clan membership is neither associated with lower rates of externalizing behaviors for youth, nor does it affect the likelihood of reporting externalizing behaviors among male players. There is some suggestion that clan membership may attenuate the concurrent association between in-game violent content and some externalizing behaviors for females.

Due to circumstances, I intend to enter the industry, preferably focusing on  players/gamers online interactions or user research. Continue reading

Friendship in online gaming among emotionally sensitive gamers (Kowert et al., 2014)

Rachel Kowert (University of Münster), Emese Domahidi (University of Münster) and Thorsten Quandt (University of Münster) have published a study regarding the relationship between online videogame involvement and gaming-related friendship among emotionally sensitive individuals in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.


Some researchers believe that online gaming spaces can be socially accommodating environments for socially inhibited individuals, such as the socially inept, socially anxious, or shy. Whilst previous research has examined, and found, significant links between these populations and online video game play, it remains unknown to what extent these spaces are contributing to tangible social benefits for the socially inhibited. The current study addresses this question by evaluating the link between gaming-related friendships and shyness, as quantified by emotional sensitivity. Drawing from a representative sample of German game players, the results indicate that emotionally sensitive players are using online gaming spaces differently from their less emotionally sensitive counterparts and reporting tangible differences in their in-game friendship networks. This suggests that online games hold the potential to be socially advantageous for shy individuals by allowing them to overcome their traditional social difficulties and generate new friendships as well as strengthen old ones.

Happy Halloween! Continue reading

Cheaters in the steam community: a social network perspective (Blackburn et al., 2014)

The video explains a good deal about the nuances of cheating. In this post, we will look at those that intentional broke the code, what happens to them and their friends after they are branded as cheaters in Steam.

A cheater is a loathed label in society, anyone caught or suspected of cheating faced severe consequences from established written rules (e.g. fines or bans) to conventional unwritten ones (e.g. ostracism). The motivation for such punishment can be varied, but the most common one is fairness, a fairness that everyone is playing by the game and social rules. The motivations for cheating are quite varied and it does not simply focus as a moral issue, it could be a result of a combination of peers, group norms or attitudes towards cheating.

The paper reports on cheaters from a social network analysis which means a huge deal of public data gathered from the internet. Jeremy Blackburn (University of South Florida) is a computer science PhD student specializing in social network analysis. His co-authors include Nicolas Kourtellis, John Skvoretz, Matei Ripeanu and Adriana Iamnitchi. The paper was published in ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, a publication in computer science of which is outside of my expertise.


Online gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry that entertains a large, global population. One unfortunate phenomenon, however, poisons the competition and spoils the fun: cheating. The costs of cheating span from industry-supported expenditures to detect and limit it, to victims’ monetary losses due to cyber crime.

This article studies cheaters in the Steam Community, an online social network built on top of the world’s dominant digital game delivery platform. We collected information about more than 12 million gamers connected in a global social network, of which more than 700 thousand have their profiles flagged as cheaters.

We also observed timing information of the cheater flags, as well as the dynamics of the cheaters’ social neighborhoods. We discovered that cheaters are well embedded in the social and interaction networks: their network position is largely indistinguishable from that of fair players. Moreover, we noticed that the number of cheaters is not correlated with the geographical, real-world population density, or with the local popularity of the Steam Community. Also, we observed a social penalty involved with being labeled as a cheater: cheaters lose friends immediately after the cheating label is publicly applied.

Most importantly, we observed that cheating behavior spreads through a social mechanism: the number of cheater friends of a fair player is correlated with the likelihood of her becoming a cheater in the future. This allows us to propose ideas for limiting cheating contagion.

Am blogging from Montreal, been busy with some problems, also you can read the article from this link here. Continue reading

To feel like the good or bad guy: The role of empathy (Happ et al., 2014)

Matthew Grizzard (University of Buffalo) used “University Press Release” for his videogame study on moral sensitivity that was published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. It was super effective, many news media picked up the study. In response, I am blogging on Christian Happ (University of Trier), André Melzer (University of Luxembourg) and Georges Steffgen’s (University of Luxembourg) study on the role of empathy in antisocial and prosocial gaming in Psychology of Popular Media Psychology.


Evidence suggests that violent media influence users’ cognitions, affect, and behavior in a negative way, whereas prosocial media have been shown to increase the probability of prosocial behavior. In the present study, it was tested whether empathy moderates these media effects. In two experiments (N 80 each), inducing empathy by means of a text (Study 1) or a video clip (Study 2) before playing a video game caused differential effects on cognitions and behavior depending on the nature of the subsequent video game: The induction had positive effects on participants’ behavior (i.e., decreasing antisocial and increasing prosocial behavior) after a prosocial game (Study 1), or when participants played a positive hero character in an antisocial game (Study 2). In contrast, empathy increased antisocial behavior and reduced prosocial behavior after playing a mean character in an antisocial game (Study 1 and 2). These findings call attention to the differential effects of empathy depending on game type and game character, thereby questioning the unconditional positive reputation of empathy in the context of video game research.

I noticed that many people see me as a great resource and I must disagree because I don’t know everything, I just know what I read from the abstracts. Continue reading

Reactions to a woman’s friend request in an FPS game (Holz Ivory et al., 2014)

Previously in communication science, Kuznekoff & Rose (2013) did a field experiment in a popular FPS where they played either as a male or female player and analyzed comments directed towards them. What they found is that the female player received three times as many negative comments as the male player.

Adrienne Holz Ivory (Virginia Tech), Jesse Fox (Ohio State University), Frank Waddell (Pennsylvania State University) and James Ivory (Virginia Tech) conducted a field experiment of their own where they examined how players of a different FPS game reacted to either a male’s or female’s friend request following a match. What did they found in this field experiment?


Sex role stereotyping by players in first-person shooter games and other online gaming environments may encourage a social environment that marginalizes and alienates female players. Consistent with the social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE), the anonymity of online games may engender endorsement of group-consistent attitudes and amplification of social stereotyping, such as the adherence to gender norms predicted by expectations states theory. A 2 × 3 × 2 virtual field experiment (= 520) in an online first-person shooter video game examined effects of a confederate players’ sex, communication style, and skill on players’ compliance with subsequent online friend requests. We found support for the hypothesis that, in general, women would gain more compliance with friend requests than men. We also found support for the hypothesis that women making positive utterances would gain more compliance with friend requests than women making negative utterances, whereas men making negative utterances would gain more compliance with friend requests than men making positive utterances. The hypothesis that player skill (i.e., game scores) would predict compliance with friend requests was not supported. Implications for male and female game players and computer-mediated communication in online gaming environments are discussed.

Yay! It’s summer time, now I get to catch up on the games I bought from the last steam sale! Continue reading