Last night we had a ‘test run’ or pilot interview.
We made a new alt (i.e. a second or alternative) character on WoW’s Moonglade server and interviewed a ‘real life’ couple who play together (the couple are known to the team in RL) while sitting in a desert outpost in Alliance territory. They are both lvl 47 (though they both have alts).
We recorded the interview as a chatlog.
The project team will look at the chatlog at our fortnightly meeting, and discuss if we should take this forward, and, if so, how we might refine the interviews or change our approach, etc. This exercise is not about ‘couples’ – it’s about different things the game offers, different expectations and perceptions of expertise (learning, authority, credibility) and the different ways that these factors might be managed (and the idea that this management involves crossing the lines between RL and in-game repeatedly, which makes it interesting, because it is this ‘crossing’ that is methodologically difficult) – in a more dispersed sense, we’re thinking about the dynamics between the management of play (where play might take lots of forms) and a relationship in a particular context, where there might be lots of relationships (fictional/casual/RL friends…etc.)
Using a semi-structured interview, the following questions were posed:
(General theme) moving between in-game/real-world factors (managing the game/managing play)
Approach through:
Differences in play-style (establishing/articulating and managing these differences)
Time (spent in the game)
Time (in relation to domestic context)
Differences
– in ‘role’ (fictional, or in the team)
– in previous experience
– in expertise, in relation to the ‘better player’
Did you start playing at the same time?
Do you have a similar background in terms of gaming?
Do you play together?
Do you duel?
Do you do battlefields?
Do you ‘care more’ about different aspects of the game?
Who is ‘in role’
Depth and consistency of role
Gender (against/aligned/character/RL)
RL relationship / ‘in character’ relationship
Relationships in terms of guild/team/party/temp. or casual party. Are you in the same room (RL conversation/chat/’say’/’role’)?
Alts and mains: distributed roles.
What are the ratios between these alts/mains and which are the ones you play together? (ratio in terms of game-time, levels, commitment).
When are you most likely to talk (in real space) while playing (to squabble about something? to complain? to ‘gang up’ on somebody?)
Do you argue during play – if so, do you ‘play this out’ in role (or at least in-game) or take it to real space?

dc

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