Researcher studies City of Heroes memorymaking

City of Heroes players, did you ever think your beloved old world would be the subject of academic research? Olle Sköld from Uppsala University in Sweden recently examined the extant City of Heroes community in an “interpretative case study” in order to “explore how virtual world communities employ new media as a repository to record information about their past.” For seven months beginning with the shutdown announcement date on August 31st, 2012, Sköld analyzed everything written on the City of Heroes Reddit to see just how people in a digital space keep the spirit alive, document their adventures, and promulgate memorykeeping. Reddit, guys. For science. He kinda deserves an award just for that.

The principal finding of the study is that the CoH community, with varying levels of intentionality, documented a range of pasts on /r/cityofheroes, relating to CoH as a game world, a site of personal experience, a product, a nexus of narratives, and a game. The analysis also lays bare the community’s memory-making processes, in which the documented conceptions of CoH’s past were put to work in the present, informing community action and viewpoints.

Reddit was chosen, by the way, because it wasn’t subject to the whims of NCsoft and suffered no drop-off in activity in the early months after the game was actually closed down. Sköld notes that the “CoH community voluminously documented CoH as an audiovisual space,” and he even mentions the boost City of Titans got from the united community.

The full paper, Documenting virtual world cultures: Memory-making and documentary practices in the City of Heroes community, was published earlier this year and is available online behind the usual academic paywall. Now go. Hunt. Kill Skuls.

[Source: Emerald Insight: Journal of Documentation, Volume 71, Issue 2. With sincere thanks to our tipster, Chris.]
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39 Comments on "Researcher studies City of Heroes memorymaking"

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srmalloy
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srmalloy

TinaNoire Titan Icon isn’t logging into the game; there’s nothing behind your client managing all of the functions of the server. And, somehow, the zones without the population — no civilians walking around, no spawns of mobs waiting to be brought to justice, no heroes zooming around attending to their own tasks — makes it feel more like a corpse of the city we knew than a way to take a step back into it.

TinaNoire
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TinaNoire

you know you can still log in game, sure you can’t play or interact with people but you can still fly and jump around zones and get more screenshots and load up minions and such from the game, i log in time to time

srmalloy
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srmalloy

Samuraiko Periodically, I go back to the pool of CoH videos and watch some of them, and they still drag up an ache for a world I’m unlikely to see again.

Samuraiko
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Samuraiko

The memory of CoH is why I will *NEVER* take down my YouTube channel of all the videos I made for the game. I documented it in my own way. :)

hults2
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hults2

/em holdtorch
Like so many others, CoH was the only game that has held me for more than five minutes and I think of it every day and twice on Sundays. It was equal parts the game (who doesn’t want to put on a cape and fly over a city as majestic music plays?) and the community, who were always friendly, inviting, and upbeat. Its why it DOES stick so firmly in the memory of so many; because it was not just a game, like WoW or SWTOR tend to be, but a living breathing community of players who did and still do know one another by name or handle. The various City message sites still throb with life even though the game is now nearly three years dead. We report to each other who is with us, who have spawned new gamers, and who have joined Atlas Park in that great server in the sky.

Techbot Alpha
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Techbot Alpha

I still hold that CoH was more of a gaming phenomenon than a lot of people gave/give it credit for. 
I also still sincerely hope that the talks and negotiations for the IP access go through. Just seeing those screenshots is enough to make this bots central system pump ache for the good old days of obliterating all who stood before me and even going toe-to-toe with Hero/AV class opponents solo. 
Well…solo-ish. Being a Mastermind means having 6 other robots beside yourself buuuut, eh, who’s counting, right?

Celestia
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Celestia

I left my characters in different parts of the city, to continue their watch without me.

Celestia
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Celestia

I still mourn the loss of CoH daily.  It had so many innovative game features that have never been equaled.  It had an outstanding community of diverse players.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Rebel Engie Yeah it’s a tad hard to explain since it’s a long paper and I can’t ethically post the whole thing here because of the way the paywalls work. And yes, he was studying what people record, what they keep, how they transmit it, and how they keep memories alive in a digital space, which isn’t something anyone’s really looked at with gaming since it’s so relatively knew. Memorykeeping a broader term that describes not just how memories are made but how they are changed over time (humans are bad at memory) and specifically how (and whether) they are recorded. It’s kinda neat actually.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

ShacoSlayer Epic tats! I love them.