Lauren Cundall 2009
This dissertation explores an intersection between two areas of significance to young people: Technology and Social Connectedness. This study sought to investigate whether Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Gaming (MMORPG) is socially isolating or whether it may to some extent be socially enhancing. Its findings hope to assist parents and the general public in understanding the experience of MMORPG and why so many young people actively seek to engage with this technology. A phenomenological study was carried out with 9 participants from the Christchurch area, who were recruited through snowball sampling and interviewed about their gaming experiences. Four themes emerged that explained how the gamers experienced the online worlds of MMORPG. The themes were: i) connection, ii) skill development and learning, iii) online community and iv) time commitment. Within each of these themes participants were able to identify ways in which MMORPG appeared to contribute to social capital and acted as a “third place” for young people to interact in addition to their home and school environment. Whilst the study is unable to conclude that MMORPG is socially isolating or enhancing, the findings and resulting discussion provide a window for further research and policy development for the education and public health sector.