For a while, I’ve been mentioning how MMOs are interesting social spaces in that a sufficiently mature teenager could lead a group of adults - something that social institutions in the “real world” don’t usually allow. A broader theme here is the reversal of status as people enter into MMOs. One interesting hypothesis is that people, particularly teenagers who may feel disempowered in the physical world, may be more tempted to strive for positions of power and authority in a virtual world where there is a level playing field. One potential consequence of this is that players with high status or authority in MMOs may be disproportionately composed of younger players.
There’s data from several areas to support this claim. First of all, it’s no surprise that older players are more likely to have management or leadership roles in the physical world.
What is surprising is that the reverse is true in the game. In MMOs, it is younger players who are more willing to take charge and take on leadership roles, whereas older players are more content to sit back and follow along.
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