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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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
Guest
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.

Rebel Engie
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Rebel Engie

I am not sure I understand “the finding”. 
It just basically says the players documented their past with screenshots and walls of text?
And what is “memory making”?  
Isn’t “memory” something that just happens to people who pay attention? 
And not made by effort?

Rebel Engie
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Rebel Engie

doctoroverlord
That would be an interesting read indeed.

DavidPhillips2
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DavidPhillips2

Estranged There are CoH survivors who are MMO players, and there are those who are not. I’ve tried other MMOs, and all had something to offer, just not what I was looking for. That, so far, has been only provided by CoH. For me it wasn’t just the community, but the game itself. Biggest part of that was the Super Hero genre.
Sure, there’s Champions Online and DCUO. CO is close to CoH, but it fails in that I can’t stand the graphics/art and the crafting system is… well, I’ve never figured it out. Mostly it’s the art.Longest I can manage to stay in game in CO is about 15 minutes, which I do every now and again. DCUO? It’s art work is beautiful, but it’s not exactly keyboard user friendly… and I rely heavily on my keyboard. Also didn’t like the fact that it’s entrenched in the DC universe.

The Secret World, I’ve heard of it. I’ve heard good things about it. But for my money I’d rather wait and hope that one of CoH’s spiritual successors can actually deliver what they are hoping for, a new home where I can recreate the 200+ characters I had in CoH.

doctoroverlord
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doctoroverlord

I’m just waiting for someone to write their dissertation with 4Chan as the topic.

Peregrine_Falcon
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Peregrine_Falcon

Thanks MOP, for being the only news site that still talks about CoH.

Gylnne
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Gylnne

Could we please have a MassivelyOP study on whether it scars us for life when MJ dies multiple times during her streaming.?:P

ShacoSlayer
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ShacoSlayer

CoH has, and will continue to be my most cherished childhood activity. To this day I continue to tell people how much fun and awesome it was. Working at GameStop I meet a lot of fellow CoH players, when they notice my tattoos, and even after all these years when I talk  to them I can see it in their eyes and how their presence changes talking about CoH. Theres no doubt in my mind that CoH was the best game that I have (so far) played, period.

JayBezzOfficial
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JayBezzOfficial

The virtual world and it’s juxtaposition to our actual world is always worth study.  I’m happy to see people cared so much for City of Heroes to use it as subject matter.

A Dad Supreme
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A Dad Supreme

AvatarOP 
” you’d better be patient. ”
=====
“It’s been quiet on the http://massivelyop.net/tag/wildstar/ front lately, but that might change now that the team has started https://www.wildstar-online.com/en/freetrial/.”

JonBuck
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JonBuck

Dug through some old CoH screenshots. Found this. Party in Atlas Park.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

MagmaFist TinaNoire Haha yesssss. That’s my earth/storm troller on the left and my guildie’s rad/fire fender I think on the right. We were kinda unstoppable. :D

MagmaFist
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MagmaFist

TinaNoire MagmaFist Yeah, I know about Icon already but not quite the same as what I am describing above. There was more to the game and it would have been nice to capture more of it while it was live. After the announcement, it really took the wind out of my sails and I did not log in until the last couple days, something I now regret.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

AvatarOP 
There seems to be a strange obsession to compare everything and anything to WildStar of late. For all bad press it has gotten, it still seems to be popular in topic. Perhaps this is a case of a lot of players are in the closet about this game. And I wouldn’t be surprised the day I re-sub and log back on, that lovely yellow Aurin hopping around beside me at the AH juncture, would be none other than GoldenGirl herself. Just saying, cupcake.

TinaNoire
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TinaNoire

You know if it wasn’t for COH I would of never met my now husband. We met in game though a friend in 2004, met in 2005 and got married, still married til this day, was hoping to show this game to our kids and show them how we met etc. But NCSoft took that away. Well 10 years later and still going strong tho! :) But I do have many friends who used COH as a escape from the real world when they got off work, some couldn’t even cope after the game got shut down and ended up in the hospital. Without there get away of COH life was hard to cope with :( 

I wish NCSoft would see what they have done to many out there that not so much wanted the game, but for those that needed the game :(

TinaNoire
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TinaNoire

MagmaFist you can already revisit the game and get screenshots etc, sure there wont be others around but you can make your character and take screen shots

MagmaFist
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MagmaFist

I regret not making more screenshots or videos. It would be nice to be able to revisit the game on Youtube where you could find a complete list of powers then show them in action against a mob or two. Just short two or three minute videos. Here is Tornado, here is Foot Stomp, etc. Or more complete videos of each powerset. 
Interesting to write a research paper on it. When I was feeling nostalgic I didn’t visit the reddit forums but went to other places like cohtitan, paragonwiki, youtube and cityofheroes.ca where they recreated the original website as much as possible.

A Dad Supreme
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A Dad Supreme

AvatarOP A Dad Supreme 
I can wait. Playing ESO next week, back to FFXIV.
Already have the game so when they flip, I’ll probably check it out.

wolfyseyes
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wolfyseyes

Huh… :(

BryanCo
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BryanCo

wolfyseyes  GoldenGirl was being GoldenGirl on the CoH forums long before the shutdown was announced.

Kageokami
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Kageokami

AvatarOP Kageokami A Dad Supreme  Don’t get me wrong … still subbed and hoping for the best ( while not actively playing).

AvatarOP
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AvatarOP

Kageokami A Dad Supreme AvatarOP it is coming back. the base game and gameplay was there. the issues we’re not deep rooted. it was surface stuff.
compare to eso in which the problems are so deep that they are impossible to resolve with patches, wildstar is actually solid in its core.

lets see how it goes.

AvatarOP
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AvatarOP

A Dad Supreme AvatarOP you’d better be patient. wildstar is now a game with players that are averaging 30+years of age. probably due to the sub model.
and you know what… its kind of cool.

Kageokami
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Kageokami

A Dad Supreme AvatarOP  WS did have a “huge community” until July 4th weekend of 2014 … then it turned into a ghost town.  Fastest drop off in history ( to me ) ( was faster than SWTOR after the Illum debacle). 0_o

A Dad Supreme
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A Dad Supreme

AvatarOP 
“it is a fkin amazing game but only for a tiny community so it seems.”
=====
At launch, this wasn’t so. It was an average game with a huge community.
It appears both things have changed since then.

BigAngryPlays
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BigAngryPlays

The COH subreddit is and usually has been dead… should have picked the COH Livejournal. That was kickin’ from day 1 until LJ kept getting DDoS’d by the Russian government. There’s still some goings on there to this day.

wolfyseyes
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wolfyseyes

AvatarOP  Well that ship is yet to sail, but the genre fans at large are only going to remember the chest-thumping marketing idiocy without fully appreciating the actual game itself.
If anything, WildStar will be a college study in how NOT to mass-market

AvatarOP
Guest
AvatarOP

same will happen with Wildstar.

it is a fkin amazing game but only for a tiny community so it seems.

go figure…
and then we wonder why we get unimaginative games and cash grabs based on popular IPs and generic fantasy all the time.

wolfyseyes
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wolfyseyes

I wonder how deep Mr. Skold went down the rabbit-hole in his research to inform us what mental damage gave us such luminaries as GoldenGirl.

DaBruuzer
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DaBruuzer

That… is actually really interesting.  Games as life-events.  Reddit, YouTube, etc. as cave walls, for painting on.  I can see the connections easily.

wpDiscuz