Dmitri Williams

Dmitri Williams
University of Southern California | USC · School for Communication and Journalism

PhD

About

78
Publications
127,117
Reads
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7,603
Citations
Citations since 2016
14 Research Items
3889 Citations
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Introduction
Working on large-scale data, player and consumer communities, and the occasional dragon and explosion. Papers you can't find here on RG are usually here: http://dmitriwilliams.com/research.html

Publications

Publications (78)
Article
Measuring influence of one person on another has applications in advertising and marketing and across the sciences. Most approaches involve inferring influence based on speech and social media. In contrast, this paper takes existing spending data and attributes influence on to the spenders and those likely to have caused their spending. The resulti...
Article
The need satisfaction and psychological benefits derived from gameplay are generally understudied for older video game players. This study connects the Self-Determination Theory, Motivational Theory of Life-Span Development, and Socioemotional Selectivity Theory to understand players’ in-game behaviors and their corresponding need satisfaction from...
Article
Gold farming and real money trade refer to a set of illicit practices in massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) whereby players accumulate virtual resources to sell for “real world” money. Prior work has examined trade relationships formed by gold farmers but not the trust relationships which exist between members of these organizations. We ado...
Article
This study tests how individuals attribute responsibility to an artificial intelligent (AI) agent or a human agent based on their involvement in a negative or positive event. In an online, vignette experimental between-subjects design, participants (n = 230) responded to a questionnaire measuring their opinions about the level of responsibility and...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined how self-presentation on social media influences the way people view themselves. It also examined whether that varies with sites using two temporal features: posts which have a short life (ephemeral) and those which live indefinitely (permanent). Drawing on both the notion of public commitment and self-symbolizing, our experimen...
Article
This study employed an experiment to test participants’ perceptions of an artificial intelligence (AI) recruiter. It used a 2 (Specialist AI/Generalist AI) × 2 (Sexist/nonsexist) design to test the relationship between these labels and the perception of moral violations. The theoretical framework was an integration of the Computers Are Social Actor...
Article
The present research addresses the stereotype that women and girls lack the ability to succeed compared to men and boys in video games. Previous lab-based research has found that playing spatial-action video games potentially reduces the gender gap in spatial-thinking skills, while previous field studies of less spatially oriented online games have...
Article
This study employs an experiment to test assessments of music composed by artificial intelligence. We examined the influence of (a) met or unmet expectations about artificial intelligence (AI)-composed music, (b) whether the music is better or worse than expected, and (c) the genre of the evaluation of music using a 2 (expectancy violation vs confi...
Article
Toxic behaviors are pervasive in online games and can be harmful to building a positive online environment. Guided by the social identity model of deindividuation, this study represents one of the first efforts to examine the antecedents of toxicity in team-based online games using longitudinal behavioral data. It fills two important gaps in existi...
Article
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This study employs an experiment to test subjects’ perceptions of an artificial intelligence (AI) crime-predicting agent that produces clearly racist predictions. It used a 2 (human crime predictor/AI crime predictor) x 2 (high/low seriousness of crime) design to test the relationship between the level of autonomy and responsibility for the unjust...
Article
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This article examines avatar gender choice within a competitive context in which avatar gender is not equivalent across functions. In data from the game League of Legends (n = 15,392) reflecting >5 million avatar gender choices, women were found to have stronger preferences for avatar gender consistency than men. Furthermore, women tended to choose...
Chapter
Full-text available
Game developers write code that governs and impacts our behaviors. The resulting positive and negative social outcomes are the inevitable consequence of some designs, even when those consequences are unintended. To make this point, the chapter lays out a theoretical groundwork from computer-mediated communication and references a series of empirica...
Article
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This study applies theories of computer-mediated communication and human-computer interaction to the study of transactive memory systems (TMS; how small groups coordinate expertise, for which communication is the central mechanism) in video game teams. A large-scale survey (N = 18,627) of players from the small group video game League of Legends (L...
Article
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Commercial games are rarely studied for their links to civic behavior. Yet small-group games online can affect the social networks that spill into civic life (and vice versa). This study examined players of the world’s most popular personal computer game, League of Legends. Such games are theorized as mirrors that reflect civic tendencies and help...
Article
Full-text available
Although video gaming is becoming a more widespread activity beyond its historically core demographic of young males, participation in competitive gaming remains largely male dominated. Addressing this issue, this research examines the experience of female players in one of the worlds most popular games, League of Legends. Two studies - one qualita...
Article
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How do social ties in online worlds evolve over time? This research examined the dynamic processes of relationship formation, maintenance, and demise in a massively multiplayer online game. Drawing from evolutionary and ecological theories of social networks, this study focuses on the impact of three sets of evolutionary factors in the context of s...
Article
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Information and communication technologies are blurring the boundaries between work and play. We present the first empirical investigation of gender gaps in virtual game economies. Analyzing big data sets from two major game economies, we find that player gender and character gender influence virtual wealth in different ways in different games. We...
Article
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Using Cognitive Dissonance and Balance Theory, this study investigates factors that predict how and why MMO players inaccurately report their game playing time. It was hypothesized that players belonging to categories other than the stereotypical game player (e.g. younger, less educated, male) would be likely to underreport playing time. It was als...
Article
Full-text available
In what ways do the online behaviors of wizards and ogres map to players’ actual leadership status in the offline world? What can we learn from players’ experience in Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOGs) to advance our understanding of leadership, especially leadership in online settings (E-leadership)? As part of a larger agenda in the emerg...
Article
Full-text available
This study proposes a structural approach to examining online bridging and bonding social capital in a large virtual world. It tests the effects of individual players’ network brokerage and closure on their task performance and trust of other players. Bridging social capital is operationalized as brokerage, the extent to which one is tied to discon...
Patent
The social influence that each person in a computer network system exercises over others in the system may be valued by aggregating the differences in value of each of the others to the network both with and without the person being present. This calculated influence may be used as a basis for charging advertisers for advertisements to the users, a...
Chapter
Full-text available
What in-game attributes predict players’ offline gender? Our research addresses this question using behavioral logs of over 4,000 EverQuest II players. The analysis compares four variable sets with multiple combinations of character types (avatar characteristics or gameplay behaviors; primary or nonprimary character), three server types within the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The term 'Gold Farmer' refers to a class of players in massive online games (MOGs) involved in a set of interrelated activities which are considered to be deviant activities. Consequently these gold farmers are actively banned by game administrators. The task of gold farmer detection is to identify gold farmers in a population of players but just l...
Article
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With a massive online population over 560 million in 2012, China has risen to be one of the most prominent players in the global digital era. However, much remains to be learned about the social implications of internet use in everyday life in the Chinese context. Do mediated social relationships supplement or displace offline connections? How do t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Humans form groups and congregate into groups for a variety of reasons and in a variety of contexts e.g., corporations in offline space and guilds in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs). In recent years a number of models of group formation have been proposed. One such model is Johnson et al's [10] model of group evolution. The model is moti...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this paper, we investigate the problem of churn prediction in Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) from a social science perspective and develop models incorporating theories of player motivation. The ability to predict player churn can be a valuable resource to game developers designing customer retention strategies. The re...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Although trade in illicit items and services is prevalent in many economic systems, collecting reliable data and making empirical claims about this activity is difficult. Using anonymized behavioral logs from a massively multiplayer online game, we analyze the items exchanged by players later banned for gold farming. We simultaneously analyze cland...
Article
Full-text available
How do social networks formed in MMOGs change over time? Are online relationships merely random, short-lived encounters or lasting and substantive connections? This study aims to examine the dynamic processes of relationship formation, maintenance, and demise in online worlds. Drawing from the theoretical framework of organizational ecology and net...
Article
Full-text available
This study is the first large-scale multi-method attempt to empirically examine the characteristics leading to development of expertise in EverQuest II, a popular massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMOs). Benefiting from the unprecedented opportunity of obtaining game log data matched with survey data, the project investigated the rel...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) maintain archival databases of all player actions and attributes including activity by accounts engaged in illicit behavior. If individuals in online worlds operate under similar social and psychological motivations and constraints as the offline world, online behavioral data could inform theories about of...
Article
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The Virtual Worlds Exploratorium is a multidisciplinary project dedicated to the study of communication-related behaviors using data from massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). In a partnership with a corporation that hosts an MMO, a 20-person team of scholars is engaged in the study of behavior within a game and also game activities that paral...
Article
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By observing how covert financial networks operate in online games like World of Warcraft, we can learn about how they might function offline.
Article
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A two-part quantitative and qualitative study of role players within a virtual game world examined their prevalence, practices, and identity formation. Drawing on unobtrusive behavioral data captured by the game, combined with a large survey and traditional ethnographic methods, the study found that role players both negotiate identity and use thei...
Article
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By unpacking different forms of Internet and massively multiplayer online game (MMO) use, the present study adopts a nuanced approach to examine the connections between online activities and psychosocial well-being. It combined self-reported survey data with unobtrusive behavioral data from server logs of a large virtual world, EverQuest II. Over 5...
Article
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Virtual worlds have exploded in popularity and drawn attention from researchers as worth studying in their own right. An additional, more radical form of scholarship has also emerged, namely, using virtual worlds to study real-world behaviors. If valid, this would enable using virtual worlds as “petri dishes” for communication scholars. However, th...
Article
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This study examines how trust is related to online social institutions, self-disclosure, mode of communication, and message privacy in a popular MMOG, Everquest II. The findings, based on survey and behavioral data from over 3,500 players, illustrate how MMOGs may support trust development. Trust was higher within closer social circles: trust was h...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Gold farming is a set of illicit practices in which players in massively multiplayer online games gather and distribute virtual goods for real money. Using anonymized data from a popular online game to construct networks of characters involved in gold farming, we examine the trade networks of gold farmers, their trading affiliates, and uninvolved c...
Article
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The online session behavior of users in a multiplayer online role playing game is examined. Three dimensions of online sessions are studied: frequency of sessions, distribution of start and stop times, and duration. These measures are modeled and examined econometrically to understand their relationships with attributes of the users and their avata...
Chapter
Full-text available
After reviewing the literature on online identity construction and developing a set of theory-based hypotheses, this chapter employs a novel combination of survey data and game-generated behavioral logs to examine gender swapping in EverQuest II. Gender swapping is defined as a difference between the gender reported by the player in the survey from...
Article
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The 150 top-selling video games sold in the U.S. across nine platforms were content analyzed to study representations of female bodies. All human females in the games were captured via screenshot and body parts measured. These measurements were then compared to actual anthropometric data drawn from a representative sample of 3,000 American women. T...
Article
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Several hypotheses regarding the importance of gender and relationships were tested by combining a large survey dataset with unobtrusive behavioral data from 1 year of play. Consistent with expectations, males played for achievement-oriented reasons and were more aggressive, especially within romantic relationships where both partners played. Femal...
Article
Full-text available
The current study examined problematic Internet use (PIU) among people who play MMO games and sought to determine whether aspects of the MMO experience are useful predictors of PIU. The study sought to determine whether game-related variables could predict PIU scores after accounting for their relationships with psychosocial well-being. Novel metho...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Advanced communication technologies enable strangers to work together on the same tasks or projects in virtual environments. Understanding the formation of taskoriented groups is an important first step to study the dynamics of team collaboration. In this paper, we investigated group combat activities in Sony's EverQuest II game to identify the rol...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We examine the social behaviors of game experts in Everquest II, a popular massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMO). We rely on Exponential Random Graph Models (ERGM) to examine the anonymous privacy-protected social networks of 1,457 players over a five-day period. We find that those who achieve the most in the game send and receive more...
Article
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This article proposes an empirical test of whether aggregate economic behavior maps from the real to the virtual. Transaction data from a large commercial virtual world — the first such data set provided to outside researchers — is used to calculate metrics for production, consumption and money supply based on real-world definitions. Movements in t...
Article
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A large-scale content analysis of characters in video games was employed to answer questions about their representations of gender, race and age in comparison to the US population. The sample included 150 games from a year across nine platforms, with the results weighted according to game sales. This innovation enabled the results to be analyzed in...
Article
Full-text available
Although violent video game content and its effects have been examined extensively by empirical research, verbal aggression in the form of profanity has received less attention. Building on preliminary findings from previous studies, an extensive content analysis of profanity in video games was conducted using a sample of the 150 top-selling video...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Gold farming refers to the illicit practice of gathering and selling virtual goods in online games for real money. Although around one million gold farmers engage in gold farming related activities, to date a systematic study of identifying gold farmers has not been done. In this paper we use data from the massively-multiplayer online role-playing...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Virtual space eliminates the constraints of physical distances on communication and interaction. In this study, we examine the impact of offline proximity and homophily of players on their online interactions in EverQuest II. The results show that spatial proximity as well as homophily still influence playerspsila online behavior.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study is the first large-scale multi-method attempt to empirically examine,the characteristics leading to development of expertise in Everquest II, a popular massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMOs). Benefiting from the unprecedented opportunity of obtaining game log data matched with survey data, the project investigated the ass...
Article
Full-text available
Online games have exploded in popularity, but for many researchers access to players has been difficult. The study reported here is the first to collect a combination of survey and behavioral data with the cooperation of a major virtual world operator. In the current study, 7,000 players of the massively multiplayer online game (MMO) EverQuest 2 we...
Article
Full-text available
This paper reports the results of a controlled field experiment in which voice communication was introduced into an existing online community (online gaming guilds within the popular game "World of Warcraft"), comparing a mix of voice and text with text only. Quantitative results suggest increases in liking and trust due to the addition of voice, a...
Article
Full-text available
Hypotheses and research questions about the Internet displacing social capital, atomizing users, creating loneliness, and creating new forms of community were addressed through an original survey of Internet users. A key innovation of this research is that it collects parallel measures of social capital for online and offline contexts, which can th...
Chapter
In the halls of Congress, in PTA meetings, church groups, and around countless water coolers, the debate over games rages. It is a debate thick with implications for society, literacy and the role of the individual versus the state. The debate rages because academics, pundits, and policy makers are struggling with the issue of games’ effects on soc...
Article
Full-text available
A 1-month panel study of an immersive online video game investigated its social and civic impact. The data revealed mixed effects: Although the game led to an improved global outlook and some online community improvements, some kinds of existing friendships eroded and the most social players became more insular. Family interactions were unaffected....
Article
Full-text available
A representative sample of players of a popular massively multiplayer online game (World of Warcraft) was interviewed to map out the social dynamics of guilds. An initial survey and network mapping of players and guilds helped form a baseline. Next, the resulting interview transcripts were reviewed to explore player behaviors, attitudes, and opinio...
Article
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This article examines the form and function of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) in terms of social engagement. Combining conclusions from media effects research informed by the communication effects literature with those from ethnographic research informed by a sociocultural perspective on cognition and learning, we present a shared theore...
Article
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The first longitudinal, controlled experiment of a video game explored the presence of cultivation effects due to play. Over the course of 1 month, participants in an online game changed their perceptions of real-world dangers. However, these dangers only corresponded to events and situations found in the game world, not other real-world crimes. Th...
Article
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Scholars investigating the relationship between the Internet and social capital have been stymied by a series of obstacles, some due to theoretical frameworks handed down unchanged from television research, and some due to the lack of an appropriate yardstick. For example, the social interactions that occur through television are prima facie differ...
Article
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Researchers are encouraged to study the social uses and effects of gaming before stereotypes form and guide both their own and the public's thinking. The rise of online games comes at a particular historical moment for social reasons as well as technological ones and prompts a wide array of questions. The transition of public life from common space...
Article
Full-text available
The study of video game effects has been marked by two very different approaches. The first approach is rep- resented by social scientists, who, with some exceptions, seek to understand the effects of games on users. The second approach is favored by humanists, who seek to understand the meaning and context of games. To date, these two groups have...