WoWconomics: Introduction to Networks

For my first post I thought I would attempt to mix two of my favorite past-times into one single fascinating article: The Economic Theory of Networks, and World of Warcraft.

Still reading?

For those who have not spent endless hours questing around the mythical world of Azeroth, World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) for short. Most of the characters that you interact with during your time in the “World” are in fact actual live humans. With over 10 million active users, it is sufficient to say that there is an area of interest in studying this world, especially for the study of Networks.

I found an article that we will only use about half a page of right now, but which may become more relevant later in the semester, which can be found right here. (Please go to page 14 and read from point 4.5 Player Independence)

What this segment of this paper talks about is player in- and inter-dependence. What the study found is that the majority of players do not share great quantities of time working together, but there appear to be a small group of people that do work together. These cooperative types generally only have one or two companions, which seems consistent with the idea of “real-life” friends.

However, this section does not discuss the idea of Guilds, which are player created networks that would attempt to assist in cooperation amongst a seemingly independent player pool. These guilds often are the most effective way of defeating the most difficult challenges found in the game, and yet, it appears from this study that a majority of players do not associate with two people enough, let alone the 40 or 50 people that typically make up a Guild, to be making use of this game mechanic.

In terms of networks, it appears that the majority of players are social islands, playing alone or with a mere one or two acquaintances  instead of making use of the plethora of potential companions.

My question is why? Please feel free to comment!

Nick Hakun


In this blog students of the course “Economic Theory of Networks”, taught by Dimitrios Diamantaras at Temple University, write about the subject of the course. The course (and the blog) are modeled after the course Networks offered at Cornell University. That class’s blog is here.