Work and Play Don't Mix
We'll end with a narrative that has a mix of positive and negative impacts. This narrative is fascinating as it lies at the intersection of work and play, and in particular, possible consequences of playing games with your bosses.
I have not played in MMOs where I have experienced this; however, that may be due to prior experiences in playing games (FPS) with my boss. In those games, I was responsible for organizing the 'play dates' and encouraging the team to get together. Initially, this was a fantastic way to showcase my leadership and organizational skills. My management promoted those skills as positive teambuilding and rewarded me sufficiently. However, as time wore on, the same manager was not able to continue improvement in the game, and lost interest as the other players became significantly better. When he stopped playing altogether, the expectations that I would set up the games became a liability in that I was spending 'too much time' with organization, and the impression that my manager had of me was that all I did was game. This was reflected in my work performance review for two years, even after we disbanded the group that was playing. Some of us have moved on to the MMO genre now -- but it is much more secretive. We have not invited management back for the same fears of making them feel inadequate or feeling like they need more of a leadership role. [WoW, M, 32]
One interesting theme that ran through many of the narratives is how the gaming environment highlighted the existing power structures in a relationship. It is of course in role-reversals where the power structures are upset that they become most salient and thus available for examination and reflection.
A lot of times, we talk about MMOs as places where we get to play with our own identities and learn about new roles, but these role-reversals suggest that MMOs can also be places where relationships "come into play".