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Information Resources Management Association
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Participant Observation in Online Multiplayer Communities

Participant Observation in Online Multiplayer Communities
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Author(s): Marko Siitonen (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)
Copyright: 2011
Pages: 13
Source title: Handbook of Research on Methods and Techniques for Studying Virtual Communities: Paradigms and Phenomena
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Ben Kei Daniel (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-040-2.ch033


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This chapter discusses participant observation as a method of data collection for studying social interaction in online multiplayer games and the communities within them. Participant observation has its roots in the social sciences, and especially in the field of anthropology. True to a natural inquiry approach, studies utilizing participant observation try to understand the actual habitat or “lifeworld” of those participating in the study. This chapter looks at various practical issues connected to conducting participant observation in online multiplayer communities. Examples of data collection are presented, including saving log files, capturing images and video, and writing field notes. Participant observation seems well suited for studying online communities since it can respond well to the challenges of the ever-changing technology and social situations, the need to take into account multiple channels of communication, and the complex and sometimes hidden nature of computer-mediated social interaction.

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