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The Proteus Paradox: How Online Games and…
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The Proteus Paradox: How Online Games and Virtual Worlds Change…

by Nick Yee

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Millions of people play massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs), taking on new identities in virtual worlds. Nick Yee studies how behavior in these virtual worlds is surprisingly similar to behavior in the real world. For example, superstitions develop in virtual worlds much as they do in real life. However, in some cases, virtual worlds and the rules by which they are designed can influence our behavior in surprising ways. For example, the height of our avatars may influence how others react to us. Using lots of examples and quotes from interviews, Yee explores this paradox and discusses the implications for interactions in an increasingly online world. ( )
  porch_reader | Sep 2, 2015 |
It’s all in the game

The Proteus Paradox: How Online Games and Virtual Worlds Change Us—and How They Don’t by Nick Yee (Yale University Press, $28)

Nick Yee, a Ubisoft researcher who worked at Stanford and with the Daedalus Project to study the psycho-social effects of multi-player online role playing games, has written a fascinating book about that research, with the big bonus that he uses the voices of actual players describing their experiences to illustrate the trends he’s found in his research.

First and foremost, online gamers are not teen and twenty-something males living in basements and eating Cheetos—at least, not exclusively. The presence of women, the prevalence of gamers over 40, the hierarchical organizations that evolve, the ways in which gaming becomes “work”—and is studied by business in order to find ways to further exploit their employees—and the development of superstitions and prejudices within the virtual world can tell us a great deal about what it means to be human.

Yee has done an excellent job explaining the world of online role-playing games—especially for those of us who’ve never tried the adoption of a virtual persona—and why they matter. He situates multi-player online RPGs in an historical context and explains how they differ from traditional RPGs (which began with war games, then evolved into the D&D-type games we remember from the ’80s).

What’s more, he’s got the expertise—and the data—to back up his claims about what we can learn about human behavior in the real world from studying human behavior in the virtual world. His usefulness at debunking preconceived ideas about gamers is second only to the respect he shows those who game.

(Published on Lit/Rant on 3/5/14: http://litrant.tumblr.com/post/78641542974/its-all-in-the-game-the-proteus-parad... ( )
  KelMunger | Mar 10, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300190999, Hardcover)

Proteus, the mythical sea god who could alter his appearance at will, embodies one of the promises of online games: the ability to reinvent oneself. Yet inhabitants of virtual worlds rarely achieve this liberty, game researcher Nick Yee contends. Though online games evoke freedom and escapism, Yee shows that virtual spaces perpetuate social norms and stereotypes from the offline world, transform play into labor, and inspire racial scapegoating and superstitious thinking. And the change that does occur is often out of our control and effected by unparalleled—but rarely recognized—tools for controlling what players think and how they behave.
 
Using player surveys, psychological experiments, and in-game data, Yee breaks down misconceptions about who plays fantasy games and the extent to which the online and offline worlds operate separately. With a wealth of entertaining and provocative examples, he explains what virtual worlds are about and why they matter, not only for entertainment but also for business and education. He uses gaming as a lens through which to examine the pressing question of what it means to be human in a digital world. His thought-provoking book is an invitation to think more deeply about virtual worlds and what they reveal to us about ourselves.
 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:07 -0400)

"Proteus, the mythical sea god who could alter his appearance at will, embodies one of the promises of online games: the ability to reinvent oneself. Yet inhabitants of virtual worlds rarely achieve this liberty, game researcher Nick Yee contends. Though online games evoke freedom and escapism, Yee shows that virtual spaces perpetuate social norms and stereotypes from the offline world, transform play into labor, and inspire racial scapegoating and superstitious thinking. And the change that does occur is often out of our control and effected by unparalleled--but rarely recognized--tools for controlling what players think and how they behave. Using player surveys, psychological experiments, and in-game data, Yee breaks down misconceptions about who plays fantasy games and the extent to which the online and offline worlds operate separately. With a wealth of entertaining and provocative examples, he explains what virtual worlds are about and why they matter, not only for entertainment but also for business and education. He uses gaming as a lens through which to examine the pressing question of what it means to be human in a digital world. His thought-provoking book is an invitation to think more deeply about virtual worlds and what they reveal to us about ourselves."--… (more)

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