Collaboration in Online Games

Steven Poltrock
Mark Handel

Boeing Phantom Works,USA

Peter Waggett
IBM Hursley, UK

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Motivation and Goals

This workshop is intended to provide a forum for discussion of research related to collaboration in online games. The scope includes collaborative behavior in games, the features of games that facilitate or inhibit collaboration, the relationship between collaboration in games and in the real world, and methods and tools for studying these behaviors.

People spend hours per day participating in online collaborative games. Games such as World of Warcraft attract tens of thousands of users playing in a single environment, although a single player will be interacting with a much smaller. The game-playing activity can be expected to influence player’s behavior outside the games. Indeed, the potential influence of game experiences is at the core of a movement toward development and use of serious games. Games are being developed or are in use to support education, healthcare, policy-making, corporate management, and military training. Many of these efforts involve single-player games today but are being extended to support collaboration as those capabilities of the underlying engines improve. Corporate applications of games or game-like worlds include communicating with customers and partners (e.g. IBM’s press conferences in Second Life) and creating team spaces for distributed workers (e.g. Sun Microsystem’s virtual workplace project; In addition to the outward migration of game environments to the real world, there is also the potential for inward migration of technologies to better support game playing, and the overall game experience of collaborative games.

This workshop provides an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the collaborative capabilities in these games, how collaboration capabilities might improve to support "playability," but also to enhance collaboration in general, and how collaborative behavior in the games can be expected to influence and/or mimic behavior outside the game.

Intended Audience

Participants will include computer scientists, social scientists, and game designers interested in developing collaborative capabilities, understanding collaborative behavior in games, understanding its relationship to behavior in the world, and how to better use gaming platforms as the basis for collaboration research.

Workshop Plan

We expect around 15 participants, with the goal of keeping the group small and focused to better facilitate general discussion. If there are a greater number of high-quality submissions, we will adjust the organization of the workshop to allow for smaller break-out groups to discuss shared research interests. The workshop will need a computer projector and an internet connection; participants will supply their own machines.

The workshop will be for a full day, with the morning spent in short presentations and demos to cover on-going projects and research. The afternoon will be spent in general discussion based around two or three specific areas of interest that arise out of the position and working papers. At the end of the workshop, some time will be spent to discuss how to move forward and publicize the results of the workshop.

Submission Details

Participation will be based on the submission of a short position paper or a working paper describing current research prior to the workshop. Position papers should be no more than 5 pages, including references, and working papers should be no longer than 8 pages. Papers should be submitted to no later than 14 September 2007.

Notification of acceptances will be sent in time for early registration at GROUP 07