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Jante Law and player psychology

Mike Schramm

Larisa over at the Pink Pigtail Inn has been posting some really interesting things about psychology and the World of Warcraft lately. The other week she wrapped up a little survey (along with the folks at Dreambound) about personalities of players and how they correspond to the roles they play in game, and this week she's got a little analysis up about something called the Jante Law, developed by a Norwegian author for a novel back in the 1930s. You can read the whole idea on her page or over on Wikipedia, but basically it all boils down to one "rule" for overseeing each individual member of a community: "Don't think that you are more special than us."

She applies the law to the WoW community at large, and says that without knowing it, comment trolls and those who attack people who differentiate themselves on the forums (including the folks who caused Ghostcrawler to rethink his role there) are following this law, and attacking those who stick their neck out as different. Personally, I don't know that the "haters" in the community give it that much thought -- most of the time when they do attack others, they do it to try and build themselves up rather than enforce any community standard ("You've won 1,000 AV matches? Big deal, I win in there all the time.").

But it is interesting to take this "law" and the rules that surround it, and then try to attach that onto the community surrounding World of Warcraft. I've mentioned this before: many of the same problems and issues that we're dealing with around WoW have actually been studied and broken down by psychologists in all sorts of other communities already. Jante Law is just one way to explain or understand the behavior appearing in all these various facets of the game we play.

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