Blog Post 4 - Steam

Blog » Blog Post 4 - Steam

Posted on 22 Mar 2013 02:48

1. Introduction

My proposal is based on the discourse community of Steam, an online video-game service in which players can interact through online games or community forums. I will aim to cover the method by which I will convince others that Steam is a discourse community, including a step-by-step process on how I plan to research the community through observing the various individual message boards for each online game I own, as well as see how players join together when playing an online game. Through these means, I hope to achieve some insight as to what makes Steam a discourse community as well as further my own personal understanding of the term.

2. Description of the current situation

So far, I've observed that discourse communities are essentially groups of individuals who share a variety of common traits, such as a common goal and shared lexis, and contain a mixture of both professionals of the field as well as novices. The reason behind why people decide to look for the concept of a discourse community in various groups is to better understand the group’s particular qualities and how those qualities separate it from other communities. By understanding everything that makes a group a discourse community, one can get a sense of how the group functions and the unique ways in which group members interact amongst themselves. One individual whose work on the field greatly helped my understanding of the concept is John Swales, since he was the first one to really coin the term and explain the characteristics that make a discourse community the way it is. Another individual who aided my discovery of the meaning of a discourse community is Tony Mirabelli, who uses personal anecdotes as well as straightforward examples to explain how the food service industry functions as its own discourse community. This is particularly useful for me since I plan to include alot of personal experiences and first-hand observations in my project, since staging formal interviews can be quite difficult in a more casual setting, such as within a game.

3. Description of the project plan

The first thing I plan to do is to take a look at the forums for three or four Steam games. This will help me gain an understanding of how the community interacts with one another in each game as well as give me some insight as to how I should proceed with my research. After observing several threads on the forums, I plan to load one or two steam games I have previously bought and check out how players interact with Swales’ six defining characteristics of a discourse community in mind, seeing how each characteristic lines up with the community of a particular game. Furthermore, I plan to join a Steam group, which are basically small sub-communities within the larger Steam community in which members have a particular purpose, such as finding a good deal on a Steam game, in order to develop a better sense as to how Steam is like through the lens of one specific goal rather than from a broader perspective.

4. Review of qualifications

I believe I can pull this task off because I have done a rather short analysis on a discourse community using Reddit for my Blog Post 2. Through this analysis, I’ve used many of the same characteristics outlined by Swales to support my argument that Reddit is a discourse community, citing relevant evidence as well as specific examples of how Reddit meets each of the criteria for being a discourse community. Since Steam has a fairly large playerbase, some of which includes my friends, I can ask them how their experience was like when starting out on Steam, as well as ask for their own opinion on how Steam could be considered to be a discourse community.

5. Discussion of costs/challenges

Some difficulties I might encounter when doing this project would be to find a common goal that unites many of the Steam players. Since many of the games offered by Steam vary greatly by style and purpose, it would be hard to find a way to truly link every steam player to one another. Hopefully through researching and understanding each game, I can overcome this goal and understand what individuals seek when playing a particular game.

6. Benefits and conclusion

I think this project will be very useful in that it will help me further understand what a discourse community is as well as challenge me to find defining characteristics through different mediums (games) rather than one unified forum or blog. Furthermore, such results can also expend my own knowledge as to how to better assimilate within the Steam community and play a more active role as a member.

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