Leadership in a Networked World – The Case of Massive Multiplayer Online Environments

MMOGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Games) and MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) are considered to be complex, ever-increasing systems with a full range of social and material practices, where true mastery of the game can only be achieved by working collaboratively with other players. In situated learning theory, it is argued that learning, thinking and knowing to emerge from a world that is socially constructed. Just as in a real-world community, when newcomers enter an MMOG, they are gradually introduced to a complex social framework through the tutelage of another community member. They learn to make sense of new areas, especially by engaging with others, discussing, reflecting, and sharing. In order for players to succeed in these games, they have to self-organize and collaborate in order to form guilds; constantly improve to remain competitive, visioning the enemy’s and guild’s reaction. Nevertheless, these are important leadership skills for the real world as well, revealing multiple similarities that link the gaming world and the real world. In this sense, it is imperative to understand how these virtual environments can develop or enhance skills that are important for a person’s life and work in the 21st century. This realization stresses the need for researching and analyzing the social structures that players create through their interactions with other players. However, despite the significant amount of educational research and the growing interest of the scientific community in MMOGs, there is a lack of empirical research considering the cognitive and social aspects of these games. This paper outlines the theoretical rationale behind a doctoral research project currently in progress, which examines the leadership skills that can be developed in a self-organized community in MMOGs. In order to address these issues, this paper presents a theoretical framework for analyzing the social interactions in Multiplayer Serious Games, within the context of a community of practice, activity theory, connectivism, self-organization, and autopoietic theory.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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