Player-founded organizations, or guilds, within massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) are complex social entities with organizational forms that mirror real-world companies. These guilds require leaders who possess a diverse array of skills. Examples of the skills required read like the introductory course of a business management degree – mediating conflict, planning, controlling, motivating. These skills are important - just as with real-world companies, failures on the part of leaders may explain the high degree of guild failures witnessed. Within popular MMOGs, the game mechanics allow the promotion of regular guild members to officer status. This begs the question, how might potential leaders be identified? Drawing from the emergent leadership literature, we discuss a mixed-methods study which attempts to identify potential leaders and their attributes by examining a multi-year database which represents one guild’s activities within the MMOG Everquest. Follow-up interviews with guild leadership provides a rich understanding of skills and attributes potential leaders require in coordinating a heterogeneous workforce within synchronous, non-collocated, entirely computer-mediated environments where the workforce serves on a voluntary basis. These interviews suggest these characteristics related to transformational leadership are highly sought after.
Goh, Samuel H. and Wasko, Molly M., "Leadership in MMOGS: Emergent and Transformational Leadership Candidates" (2009). AMCIS 2009 Proceedings. 538.