Hello, and thank you for the opportunity to share my research with you. Hopefully, this post isn’t a tl;dr moment for you.
I recently defended my dissertation at the University of Washington College of Education, and, as you can guess from this post on Terra Nova, it was on learning in MMOGs. Specifically, I looked at the change in raiding practice of a group of World of Warcraft players as I played alongside them for 10 months. Of particular note, my data is from the early days of WoW, spanning the life and death of a Molten Core (and later BWL and AQ40) group that came together out of a multi-guild alliance. We were on a role-play server, which I think is important to note, given the group’s shared values and goals of hanging out and having fun over and beyond itemization and progression. That said, eventually, some players did become more loot focused over time, and the fragmentation of individual motivations and group values definitely contributed to its eventual dissolution. Also of particular note, when my raid group started, theorycrafting was still a budding practice, and we did not have access to threat meters and other popular third-party add-ons that today’s WoW raiding relies on. In fact, a major section of my dissertation chronicles the change in the various material and other resources that were assembled for raiding once the first threat meter came out in Spring 2006.