WoW Factor: an insiders look at the real skills developed in the virtual World of Warcraft
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Modders were motivated to create UI modifications by wanting a feature that was absent from the default UI, the desire to improve on existing modifications, and curiosity towards modification development. Modders obtain a sense of pride in and ownership of their modifications. As well, the adaptation of others' modifications is generally encouraged in modding communities.
Sotamaa , p. This constant drive to improve the existing UI modifications is an interesting phenomenon for HCI because when modifications are built on top of one another, the UI is incrementally refined. Since survey participants and modders specifically have a high degree of computer proficiency, it is not surprising that many who enjoy playing WoW also enjoy programming modifications for fun.
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Modders for other games have been reported to take on programming modifications to contest the challenge posed by videogames as "complex code-based systems" and some use their modifications as portfolio pieces when applying for positions in the videogame industry Sotamaa, , p. Most modders developed modifications first for personal use, second for their friends or guild members and third for the UIM community in general. Typically modders shared their modifications because of pride in their work, obligation or gratitude towards the community, and the opportunity to receive feedback from other users.
Some modders opted not to share their work because they felt inconvenienced by the responsibility of providing continuous support i. We also give suggestions for future research. With respect to Game Design, the results of our survey provide some support for the claim of Johnson that the interface of a videogame is best developed in concert with its players via UI modifications because the users of the system may be the best equipped to design or customize the interface to meet their needs. These users can be highly motivated.
They are experts and can identify problems and potential features that the software designers may not have considered. UI modders, in particular, are knowledgeable about both the developmental and end-user aspects of the software in question. There are If Blizzard intended from the beginning to obtain ideas for user interface changes from the UIM community, then they may be involving the players in participatory design.
For her, the opportunity to involve game players in a strong form of participatory design is clear. Game players "already are active, creative, and engaged agents within games, though this fact often goes unacknowledged" Taylor, b. Overall, our survey supported the view of Wirman that modifications are "hacking with permission"; they are best understood as a form of fan activity.
There is no official support for WoW players after they install UI modifications. Demanding technical support from the game developers for the thousands of UI modifications available may be unreasonable, but since some modders are reluctant to provide support for their modifications, some users may receive no assistance. For the interest of HCI researchers, we observe that one disadvantage of a user-modified interface is the pressure it places on the user community to create and support software.
With respect to HCI, the need to download or create UI modifications requires extra effort and learning from the user. Survey participants repeatedly complained about upgrading and the poor quality of documentation on UI modifications. However, modification packages containing malicious executable files can sometimes slip through Curse Gaming, In general, users fear password theft and in-game effects of malicious code, such as a modification that sells all their characters' items.
Because UI modifications are so widely used, in some cases, choosing not to use modifications can limit players' participation in the game: Taylor a notes that certain modifications, such as CTRA, can become a prerequisite for participation in raiding guilds and thus high-end content.
Although the majority of survey participants thought that the advantage UI modifications provide is fair because any player can install and use them, some modders choose not to share their work, as previously described. Therefore, access to some modifications is limited to their developers, which might provide an unfair advantage over other players.
In the survey results, the few responses that presented negative attitudes towards UI modifications related to modifications that make decisions for the player or provide easy access to excessive information, thereby changing the nature of gameplay. Immediately before the survey, Blizzard made a concerted effort to block modifications that automated some gameplay by changing WoW 's API to remove functionality on which these modifications depended.
When the survey asked for participants' general feelings towards UI modifications, some supported Blizzard's need to regulate the kinds of allowed modifications, in order to maintain in-game balance among players. Thus, future software developers could provide a sponsored repository for modifications and a user forum dedicated to dealing with people who have problems. With this type of forum, the sharing of a UI modification with the community could be reciprocated when other users provide feedback, testing, and bug fixes.
A forum provides a way of reducing this impediment. According to our analysis, an online UIM community for a game could be further encouraged if roles with respect to UI modifications were defined in advance. As future research, we recommend that this study be replicated for some other game or some nongame software.
Such a study might determine whether or not the conclusions reached here apply to other games or outside the gaming industry. The results might show that people could have a better experience with other software if they were allowed to create an interface more appropriate to them. Our survey provided some preliminary results related to this topic, but the results were limited by the survey design. We believed that the more difficult a role was to play, the more likely a player was to use UI modifications.
Although our survey gathered information about the categories of modifications that each participant used, participants were unable to indicate the number and type of modifications they used while playing the various roles and game modes available in WoW. A future study could focus specifically on how the classification of users based on in-game roles affects their usage of UI modifications. Barr, P. Video game values: Human-computer interaction and games. Interacting with Computers, 19 2 , — Berntsen, B.
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