Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic

Johnson, Neil F., Xu, Chen, Zhao, Zhenyuan, Ducheneaut, Nicolas, Yee, Nicholas, Tita, George and Hui, Pak (2009) Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic. Physical Review E (Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics), 79 (6). 066117.


Quantifying human group dynamics represents a unique challenge. Unlike animals and other biological systems, humans form groups in both real (offline) and virtual (online) spaces—from potentially dangerous street gangs populated mostly by disaffected male youths to the massive global guilds in online role-playing games for which membership currently exceeds tens of millions of people from all possible backgrounds, age groups, and genders. We have compiled and analyzed data for these two seemingly unrelated offline and online human activities and have uncovered an unexpected quantitative link between them. Although their overall dynamics differ visibly, we find that a common team-based model can accurately reproduce the quantitative features of each simply by adjusting the average tolerance level and attribute range for each population. By contrast, we find no evidence to support a version of the model based on like-seeking-like (i.e., kinship or “homophily”).

Item Type: Article
Keywords: human group dynamics; online guilds; offline gangs; team dynamic
Subject(s): Complexity
Science & technology management
Centre: CABDyN Complexity Centre
Institute for Science, Innovation and Society
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2010 09:21
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:05

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View