Building social relationships in a virtual community of gamers
The purpose of this article is to understand how online gamers as a virtual community build social relationships through their participation in online games. Empirically, several aspects in the context of virtual community are still not fully understood, such as: (1) What types of rules, norms, and values are grounded in virtual community? (2) How do people institutionalize their members in a virtual community? and (3) Why do they create social relationships in virtual environment? The identified gap thus explains why studies have produced inconsistent findings on the impacts of online game play (Williams, 2003), in which many studies in the past have only looked at aggression and addiction. A more detailed understanding of the social context of in-game interactions would help to improve our understanding of the impact of online games on players and vice versa. Therefore, this article will present a case study of a renowned online game, Ever Quest (EQ), with the aim of understanding how players establish and develop social relationships. In specific, the Institutional Theory was applied to examine the social relationships among the players, and a hermeneutic-interpretive method was used to analyze the data in order to address the following general research question, "How is the social world of EQ constituted in terms of building social relationships?"