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Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft The importance of the role of the leader in a distributed online environment Pauline van der Steen Utrecht University

Recently, multinationals are showing interest in the ways in which Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs) can provide insight in the future of business in a distributed environment and leadership in particular. In this article, research is presented that deals with the ways in which World of Warcraft, the largest MMORPG around, provides an environment in which we can learn about the role of the leader in a corporate, distributed environment. The author claims that due to the resemblances between corporate environments and MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft, we can learn about the role of the leader in a distributed environment by playing and observing these games. This claim is supported by the overarching concept in Erving Goffman's role-theory, which states that people take on different roles in different settings and that specific role-characteristics such as embracement and role-distance support the constitution of such roles. The author concludes that self-presentation and roleplaying leadership is important in an online distributed environment such as World of Warcraft, but that care should be take when adapting business models to form of leadership encountered in World of Warcraft, especially short-term informal leadership. Keywords: Role-playing, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games, leadership, distributed environments, role distance, role embracement

Introduction While the world's large enterprises can be seen as the engine supporting the constitution of the information economy by developing products and services that contribute to this constitution, their business models are confronted with the need to adjust to this rapidly changing society. Business is becoming increasingly global, virtual and distributed in nature, which means that enterprises more and more have to let go of old hierarchical structures. Besides that, generation Y, for

Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


whom Internet is more a commodity than the latest 'new' medium, is on its way to take over these enterprises1. This poses questions about leadership and next generation leaders in a corporate environment, which is highly distributed and becoming more and more virtual. These questions led to an interest from business in virtual worlds, especially online role-playing games, since these virtual worlds share these attributes. Therefore amongst others, IBM, MCKinsey and Philips are exploring the opportunities of online role-playing games for business purposes (Leupen, 2008). IBM focuses on Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs) within its research and in particular explores the ways in which these games provide an environment in which leaderships skills can be trained. In this article I propose another focus, a focus on the behaviour of the leader as part of playing the role of the leader. I strongly believe that being a good leader is not just the result of the appropriate skills and environmental factors, but also the result of the ability to present oneself as a leader. In this article I will show that by observing and playing MMORPGs such as World Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment, 2004), EVE Online (CCP Games, 2003) and EverQuest (Sony, 1999) we can learn about the role of the leader in a distributed corporate environment. This claim is based on two assumptions. The first assumption is that leadership in an MMORPG is comparable to leadership in a real-life corporate setting and therefore playing and observing an MMORPG might help to gain understanding of the role of the leader in a distributed corporate environment. This assumption is supported by the work of Reeves and Malone (2007a, 2007b) and DeMarco, Lesser and O’Driscoll (2007) on leadership at work and in games. Under command of IBM these scholars have been conducting research on leadership in online games and have stated that business is becoming more and more like MMORPGs. As Reeves and Malone put it: “We know that business is becoming increasingly global. We know that enterprises are increasingly distributed, faster paced and fiercely competitive. And we know that more work will be conducted virtually, using technology to bridge previously impassable communication gaps” (2007b). Indeed, World of Warcraft is an online game and therefore has a global character, there is no hierarchical order and everyone is linked to one other, and competition is one of the main aspects of the 1

In an article in eWeek on generation Y the following is said: "Generation Y workers have a

reputation for experiencing boredom and frustration with slow-paced environments, traditional hierarchies and even slightly outdated technologies—that is, almost everything common in most workplaces." (Rothberg, 2006).

Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


game. Most obvious, communication is supported by multiple channels that are all virtual. Another feature of World of Warcraft that is also present in business is the fact that “online play is collaborative and social� (Reeves and Malone, 2007a). In order to progress in World of Warcraft, at times it is necessary to form a group in order to perform a quest or a dungeon. While proceeding in the game, this need for collaboration becomes more apparent since doing high-end raids can only be done with larger teams (Brady Games, 2007). The authors, then, propose MMORPGs as an environment in which leaders could develop leadership skills and from which lessons can be learned about the how specific attributes of a virtual environment help constitute leadership. Although this idea of researching World of Warcraft to gain insight about leadership in distributed corporate environments is intriguing, it also raises some problems. For one, it is hard to transfer findings in a game to a workenvironment. Second, there are different types of players to be found in World of Warcraft, as both Richard Bartle (1996) and Nick Yee (2008) point out to. Not all players are so-called achievers; some just play the game as a means of social interaction. Third, they overlook the importance of the ability of the leader to play the role of the leader well. This leads us to my second assumption, that roleplaying is not only a part of online role-playing games, but also a dimension of behaviour and part of every day life. This assumption is supported by the work of noted American sociologist Erving Goffman, who has written extensively about self-presentation and role-playing as a part of social life in amongst others his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1969). His main claim is that people act differently in different situations and so to speak take on different roles in different situations. According to his theory, a leader is not just a person fulfilling the position of the leader, but also a person playing the role of the leader. I will show the importance of role-playing leadership in a distributed, virtual environment by exploring the work of amongst others Goffman and, most important, by an ethnographic analysis of one specific MMORPG: World of Warcraft. The choice of World of Warcraft as a specific research-object is based on the fact that World of Warcraft is by far the largest MMORPG at the moment of conducting this research (, 2008). While researching World of Warcraft my main focus has been on playing analysis, which means I have been actively playing the game myself (Aarseth, 2004). I argue that this approach was the most appropriate for this research, for the only way to really understand the role of the leader in a MMORPG is to observe the behaviour of the leader and because of the game-play of World of Warcraft it is difficult to observe the behaviour of the leader without engaging in the game.

Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


Before proceeding to my observations in World of Warcraft I will first pay attention to different forms of role-play in World of Warcraft and some basic notions of role-theory.

Role-play and World of Warcraft Role-play versus instrumental play For this research I have been playing and observing the European role-play server Argent Dawn with a female warlock gnome named Zoli. As a newbie to World of Warcraft my choice in character and class was random, but turned out to be appropriate for this particular research. Warlocks mostly do not have certain specific tasks when doing a group task, like some other classes do. These tasks are the result of attributes of the class and warlocks are quite average with both fighting- and magic-skills. The lack of a specific task made it possible for me to better observe the other players in the group. My choice for the server Argent Dawn was based on the fact that it was on a role-play server, but while progressing in my research I noticed the choice for a specific server was not relevant, since my research could have been conducted on any server. World of Warcraft know several servers, each connected to a specific realm. While playing within a Player versus Player (PvP) and Player versus Environment (PvE) realm requires instrumental play only, on a Role-Playing (RP) server an extra the extra dimension of the act of role-play is added. Instrumental play is that kind of game-play that focuses on achieving goals that are part of the game-design, such as questing. Role-play on the other hand, can be seen as a goal but is not inherent in the game design, it is not needed to progress within the game. However, when playing on an RP-server in World of Warcraft an extra policy is in use which states that people can only communicate in character (Blizzard Entertainment, n/a). World of Warcraft does also encourage role-play by giving players the opportunity to create all different kinds of characters based on race, class, gender and physical appearance. Gary Allen Fine also made the distinction between instrumental play and role-play, stating that instrumental play is more present when players want to achieve a goal and succeed, while the act of role-play is more socially grounded (1983 : 214). Also he distinguishes between the kind of role-play where the player develops a character, entirely with a personality and history, and the kind of role-play in which the player plays himself. Its not clear though, whether Fine makes this distinction to refer to the

Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


difference between a role-player and an instrumental player or that he acknowledges the fact that some role-players do communicate in-character, but solely express themselves through this character. However, the latter idea is interesting because in this case the player can still be considered a role-player since he communicates in character, except for when the element of fantasy is a condition for speaking of role-playing. Role-play in everyday life Although this role-play feature of World of Warcraft is appealing and even an interesting research-object, this kind of role-play will not be the focus of my research. In this article with role-play I refer to the concept as explored by Erving Goffman and Ralph H. Turner. In several works, the claim Goffman makes is that people act differently according to specific situations (1969, 1990, 1997). In each of these situations the individual plays a different role, according to the definition of this situation. Goffman explores the ways in which individuals present themselves and their activities to others in his main work on this subject The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1969). He does so by using a dramaturgical perspective, which means that he talks in terms of performance, stage, audience and role. Inherent to this perspective is the idea that individuals can be seen as characters that not just ‘are’ but also ‘act’, they play a part through which they represent themselves in a certain way. For example, an individual plays the role of the father when he is with his son, he plays the role of the son when with his own father and he plays the role of the leader when he is at his job as a production manager. The notion of Goffman that people play different roles in different situations may seem obvious, but he makes a clear distinction between role and position. In his article ‘The Self and Social Roles' (In: The Goffman Reader, 1997) Goffman emphasizes this distinction between role and position. Whereas a position, such as the position of the leader, can be conceived of as an entity in space, a role is the way in which the person assigned the position carries out the personal qualities imputed on him by this position. For example, the position of a judge requires playing the role of the judge by being deliberate and sober (Goffman, 1997 : 35). In The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1969) he also points out to the fact that a position has to presented by playing the part belonging to this position: “A status, a position, a social place is not a material thing, to be possessed and than displayed; (...) it is none the less something that must be enacted and portrayed, something that must be realized” (1969 : 65). Then,

Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


when examining World of Warcraft I have focused on the role of the player, accompanied by the position of the player acquired by engaging in the game. However, an extra dimension is added since the player in this case not only plays the role of the player but also the role of player that is playing the part of the leader. In order to be able to observe this type of role-play behaviour in World of Warcraft it is important to have a notion of the way in which a role is constituted. Therefore, I will address some basic notions in role-theory. The dynamics of roles: role-sets, self- versus other-roles and leadership Turner points out that there is not just one role corresponding with a specific position, but a set of roles. By this he refers to the fact that roles are dynamic and depend on the other-role it interacts with. All these different interactions constitute different roles and the cluster of these roles are a role-set (Turner, 1990 : 89). For example, the role of the manager is different in interaction with an employee than with his own boss. Or, in World of Warcraft, a player acts different towards fellow players he already knows and players he just met. This idea of a set of roles also became clear when doing the dungeon Dead Mines for the third time. The players I formed a group with already knew each other before and the leader took on a less formal role towards his friends by joking around. Towards me he presented himself more seriously by giving tips and directions. The other, therefore, is an important part of role-playing. Without interaction there is no role. As Turner puts it: “A role cannot exist without one or more relevant other-roles to which it is oriented” (87). Goffman also acknowledges the importance of other-roles and states that in the interaction between two individuals and their roles constitute the ‘definition of the situation’ (Goffman, 1969 : IX). Turner also points out to the importance of self- versus other-roles taking leadership as an example: "The role of the leader, for example, incorporates a complex of actions which are supposed to be reflections of certain competencies and sentiment. But of the relevant other fail to reciprocate, or if they are already reciprocating to another person in the role of the leader, the identical behavior serves to label the actor as 'dissenter' and 'trouble-maker' rather than leader" (Turner, 1990 : 90). Reciprocity, then, is important in order to play the part of the leader. Turner says that issues around reciprocity can be prevented by actively appointing and defining the position of the leader. However, when playing World of Warcraft not all leaders are appointed. Formal leaders are mostly present when players group together and form guilds. Also there is the need to group in order

Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


to complete some high-end quests called raids. In both cases, leaders are of great importance to keep the group together and achieve shared goals. But there are informal leaders as well, who are not actively chosen but present themselves or emerge as leaders. These leaders can be found when, for example, two players are on the same quest and decide to join forces. Most of the times players will form a group while doing this specific quest because of practical reasons such as sharing loot and kills. Inherent in the game design is that the person who invites the other to form a group is automatically appointed leader, but this is not a decision of the players self and it is not always the case that the player appointed leadership by the game, also will take the lead in the quest. In these cases leadership can either emerge or the players complete the quest together without any form of leadership. When informal leadership emerges, reciprocity becomes more relevant since there is no leader when there are no followers. In order to gain reciprocity it is necessary for the informal leader to actively play the part of the leader, so the specific leadership qualities can emerge.

The role of the leader in World of Warcraft: role embracement and role distance

As I have stated in the introduction, it is my belief that one of the aspects of a good leader is the ability to present oneself as a leader, to role-play leadership. In my research in World of Warcraft I have been focussing on two important role characteristics that have a large influence on the way an individual fulfils a certain role: role embracement and role distance. In short, role embracement is the extent in which an individual attaches to a role and role distance is the distance between the self and the role of an individual. I observed these role characteristics by engaging in a specific group-quest in World of Warcraft, the dungeon Dead Mines in the area Westfall. The data I collected in four efforts will serve to illustrate how both role embracement and role distance manifest themselves in World of Warcraft. While conducting playing research, however, I encountered a difficulty: self-presentation, and therefore also role-play, is easily observed when dealing with people face-to-face, but in World of Warcraft I had to deal with self-presentation of players through avatars. In his article “Role distance, role distance behaviour and jazz musicians� (1969) sociologist Robert Stebbins uses a model to observe role distance among jazz musicians based on vocal behaviour, gestures and deeds. In an online environment only the latter,

Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


deeds of the players, can be observed, at least when there is no use of voIP (voice over IP) as is the case in this research. This restricts an analysis, but even the focus on the deeds of the players, both verbally and ‘physically’, leads to an interesting observation. Role embracement My second effort to engage in the dungeon Dead Mines turned out a failure because of the fact that the leader did not fulfil his role as the leader. With two other, lower level players I teamed up and went in the instance. Although I made clear that I was quite inexperienced, one of the other players made clear that it was no problem that we were just with the three of us. This player took the lead by telling us to follow him and giving some directions. However, after a mere twenty minutes the leader decided he was fed up with playing, as the following fragment shows: 6/16 20:05:23.587 [Party] Leader: i dont want no more cya2 6/16 20:05:35.449 Leader has died. 6/16 20:05:36.988 [Party] Player 1: lol 6/16 20:05:44.676 [Party] Leader: hehe 6/16 20:05:47.791 Player 1 is now the group leader. 6/16 20:05:47.943 Leader leaves the party. 6/16 20:05:49.957 Player 1 has died. After he died, the leader resurrected outside the dungeon and left the group. For the other player and me, there was no use in proceeding because we were not strong enough together. What this particular case shows, is a leader that did not embrace his role. Not only the dynamic between the self and the other is important for fulfilling the role of the leader well, also the interaction with oneself is important. Goffman states that the individual must believe in the role he is playing for giving a sincere performance (1969:16). In order to achieve such a performance, where also opponents take the individual’s role seriously, embracement of the role is needed. As Goffman puts it: "To embrace a role is to disappear completely into the virtual self available to the situation, to be fully seen in terms of the image, and to confirm expressively one's acceptance of it" (1997:36). Embracement can be 2

Because of privacy-issues I decided not to use the real names of the characters I have

been playing with, apart from the name of my own character.

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found when an individual is clearly attached to his role, he demonstrates the qualities needed for this role and actively engages in activities confirming this role (36). Turner adds the aspect of consistency to the credibility of a role. He states that in order for others to take the individual’s role seriously, one needs to show consistent behaviour (Turner, 1991: 88). This incident shows that the leader did not embrace his role. While at first this particular player took the lead and gave some instructions, giving the impression that he was taking his leadership position seriously, his behaviour turned out to not be consistent, he was clearly not attached to his role and he quit the very activity that confirmed his role. This lack of role embracement I encountered for a second time in my fourth effort to engage in the dungeon Dead Mines. While grouping up outside of the dungeon the group discussed who had the most experience with the dungeon and should be the leader. In all my other efforts to do this dungeon there has not been such a formal discussion on leadership. In the end, a level 18 Gnome Mage turned out to have the most experience and was promoted to leader. However, inside the dungeon he did not give any directions or feedback to others. Instead Player 1, a level 25 Night Elf Rogue took on this job as the following fragment shows: 7/4 12:23:16.100 [Party] Player 1: in ther when [Player 3] i back 7/4 12:23:19.559 Leader receives loot: Dalaran Sharp. 7/4 12:23:20.089 Your share of the loot is 4 Copper. 7/4 12:23:25.143 [Party] Player 2: ok 7/4 12:23:31.405 [Party] Zoli: oka 7/4 12:23:34.564 Your share of the loot is 9 Copper. 7/4 12:23:34.652 Player 1 receives loot: Wool Clothx2. 7/4 12:24:03.698 [Party] Zoli: okay what now? still wait? 7/4 12:24:08.369 [Party] Player 1: you can go inside if you want :P 7/4 12:24:17.048 [Party] Zoli: no no i wanna wait 7/4 12:24:24.330 [Party] Player 2: me too 7/4 12:24:24.882 [Party] Player 1: okey While waiting for Player 3 to return, the actual leader proceeded to the next step in the dungeon without communicating this to the other players. Consequently I posed the question whether to proceed as well, but both Player 2 and me wanted to wait, and by that acknowledged Player 1’s leadership position. The next fragment also shows how Player 1 presents himself as the leader by giving orders and feedback:

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7/4 12:35:50.909 [Party] Player 1: heal 7/4 12:36:15.109 Your share of the loot is 11 Copper. 7/4 12:36:15.916 You have selected Greed for: Rhahk'Zor's Hammer 7/4 12:36:15.918 Player 1 passed on: Rhahk'Zor's Hammer 7/4 12:36:15.919 Player 2 has selected Greed for: Rhahk'Zor's Hammer 7/4 12:36:20.734 Player 2 receives loot: Minor Mana Potion. 7/4 12:36:21.586 Player 2 receives loot: Chipped Quarterstaff. 7/4 12:36:21.595 [Party] Player 1: god job :D During this same effort all the players died a couple of times since there was not a strong enough healer in our group. One time, when we were all dead again, the appointed leader all of a sudden left the group: 7/4 12:54:48.902 Leader leaves the party. 7/4 12:54:53.331 [Party] Zoli: %^&*e !@#$e %^&*e 7/4 12:55:03.683 [Party] Player 3: demm 7/4 12:55:07.972 [Party] Player 1: hey where is [leader] going? 7/4 12:55:36.536 To Leader: you're out? 7/4 12:55:43.604 Leader whispers: yh 7/4 12:55:51.072 To Leader: bye then 7/4 12:55:54.796 Leader whispers: bye 7/4 12:55:57.138 To Leader: thanks Just like the first example, this incident shows that the leader did not embrace his leadership-role. First of all he did not present himself as the leader, what forced Player 1 to step us as the informal leader, second he quit the activity confirming this role. Role distance The latter case, my fourth effort in Dead Mines, also illustrates another important aspect in role-theory: role distance. Goffman has stated that whether an individual embraces his role or not, there can be found a “wedge between the individual and his role, between being and doing� (Goffman, 1990:103). When playing a role, the individual does not only interact with his environment, but there is also interaction between the real self and the role that is played. As long

Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


as a distance between the self and the role can be observed, we speak of role distance (Goffman, 1997 : 38). In the case where the leader did not embrace his role and Player 1 had to step up as the leader, role distance was very apparent. According to Goffman “[a]n individual may affect the embracing of a role in order to conceal a lack of attachment to it, just as he may affect a visible disdain for a role, thrice refusing the kingly crown, in order to defend himself against the psychological dangers of his actual attachment to it” (1990 : 102). In other words, an individual can ‘fake’ embracement to a role, but also expressively keeping distance from a role, as occurred in this instance. Role distance, then, can be seen as the lack of role embracement and illustrate the opposite of fulfilling a role. Role distance, on the other hand, can also be interpreted positively. Goffman illustrates in his article “Role Distance” (1990) how awareness of ones role is necessary to keep control over ones self-presentation (101). Only when an individual consciously plays a part, and therefore not is the part, one can express oneself in the way one wishes. Role-distance, then, makes it possible to reflect on ones own behaviour. Fine argues that role-distance is also needed in order to avoid over involvement (Fine, 1983 : 217). A difficulty with observing this type of role distance behaviour is that it manifests itself through the way an individual presents himself and therefore it is not always apparent. The next two fragments, however, taken from my third visit to Dead Mines, illustrate the more positive version of role distance by the leader: 6/18 20:13:56.301 [Party] Leader: we need healer. Was lookin but invited a warlock 6/18 20:14:10.125 Defias Miner dies, you gain 22 experience. (+7 group bonus) 6/18 20:14:16.930 Defias Overseer attempts to run away in fear! 6/18 20:14:17.739 Defias Overseer dies, you gain 54 experience. (+16 group bonus) 6/18 20:14:20.019 [Party] Player 1: sorry cant heal 6/18 20:14:27.006 Defias Evoker dies, you gain 54 experience. (+16 group bonus) 6/18 20:14:31.777 [Party] Leader: say that to the mage 6/18 20:14:37.042 Your share of the loot is 18 Copper. 6/18 20:14:39.019 [Party] Leader: lol 6/18 20:14:42.584 [Party] Player 1: haha

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6/18 20:47:33.661 [Party] Leader: bufff me 6/18 20:48:00.189 [Party] Player 2: lol witch buff. you are the only one who can buff 6/18 20:48:05.770 Leader laughs at Player 2. 6/18 20:48:15.133 [Party] Leader: i mean put + intelect ect 6/18 20:48:16.033 [Party] Player 1: yea haha 6/18 20:48:24.002 [Party] Player 2: ok The leader, a level 22 Human Mage, in this case did not stick to his leadershiprole the entire time, by joking around at times. However, for the most part he presented himself as a real leader by giving feedback and directions. Especially to me, the newbie and the only stranger in the group, the leader seemed quite aware of his leadership position and enacted his role accordingly. By constantly keeping control of the group and the situation this leader managed to guide us to the end of the dungeon and slay the boss. This incident illustrates how role embracement and role distance, which are seemingly opposing rolecharacteristics, can exist next to each other. While not encountered in such a fashion in efforts in the dungeon Dead Mines, theoretically role distance adds to fulfilling a role by creating the opportunity for an individual to reflect on his role. Apart from the earlier note I made about it being difficult to actually observe this manifestation of role distance, I believe the form of leadership I have been observing also adds to this problem. A leader of a group engaging in a dungeon is only the leader for a short period of time, opposed to, for example, a guild leader. In a short time, however, it is harder to become aware of ones position and the accompanying role, which in turn makes it harder to consciously present oneself in a certain manner.

Conclusion and discussion Research by Ashley John Craft on the metaphysics and moral of virtual worlds has shown that different players have different opinions on what is morally acceptable in online virtual worlds. Also this research illustrates that different players attach a different grade of meaning to virtual worlds such as MMORPGs. In other words, some players will see World of Warcraft as ‘just a game’, while others feel a deeper connection with their character and everything that happens within the game (Craft, 2007). This, then, is part of the transfer-problem I referred to in the introduction of this article. Findings in research done in an MMORPG such as

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World of Warcraft are always coloured by the motives of the players of the game. In my particular research, this problem is also very apparent. Nonetheless, it provides in some interesting observations about the role of the leader in an online distributed environment. Harking back to my original claim, that we can learn about the role of the leader in a distributed corporate environment by playing and observing World of Warcraft because of the resemblances between the two distinct worlds, this research has shown that role-playing leadership indeed is important in an MMORPG. Although self-presentation in this account could only be analysed by observing the deeds of the player, and not by observing vocal behaviour and gestures, the two role-characteristics I proposed as important for the constitution of the role of the leader, role embracement and role distance, appeared to be present and of considerable importance in a specific dungeon in World of Warcraft. The most interesting observation was the lack of role embracement, or the presence of the negative version of role distance, in two distinct efforts to complete the dungeon. This poses questions about the underlying reasons for the behaviour of the leaders in these cases. As suggested by Craft, players value virtual worlds differently and it could well be that these specific leaders thought of World of Warcraft as ‘just a game’. Of course there is also the possibility that there were other real-life factors into play, like an appointment, work or other duties. However, it could also be that the form of leadership present in a dungeon at this average level (20) does not provide enough of an incentive and time to completely embrace a role. The leader of a dungeon is not chosen most of the time, but rather emerges or a player steps up as the leader. Only once in my research the group actively appointed the leader, and he ironically kept distance from this role. Besides leadership in a dungeon to be informal, it is also shortterm since it takes approximately one and a half hours to complete this specific dungeon, Dead Mines. When the two are put together, the leader first of all does not have much time to embrace his role and second the may not feel very attached to the role because no one explicitly acknowledged his role. Referring to the way in which real-life leaders value both leadership in game and in a real-life corporate environment, DeMarco, Lesser and O’Driscoll state in Leadership in a Distributed World that “self-organizing and regulating behaviors may be more appropriate in an increasingly flexible and virtual environment” (DeMarco, Lesser, O’Driscoll, 2007 : 5). Reeves and Malone accordingly believe that the future of leadership in the corporate environment should be adapted more to forms of leadership in MMORPGs (2007b : 24). However, the results of this research show that the possibility exists that precisely

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new types of leadership, such as the informal short-term leadership I encountered, might make it more difficult for leaders to embrace their role as the leader and to take the time to reflect on their self-presentation as leaders. Adding to this the fact that it is harder to present oneself in certain manner in a virtual environment such as World of Warcraft because of the lack of vocal and gestural expression, corporations are wise to examine this problems thoroughly before integrating new forms of leadership in their business models. More reserach on this topic matter would therefore certainly be worthwhile.

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Van der Steen / Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft


Role-playing Leadership in World of Warcraft  

Essay on how leadership can be learned by playinh MMORPG's such as World of Warcraft

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