Social exchange is in the game: Communication and resource flow in a Xbox gaming clan

Keywords: Video Games, Social Network Analysis, Social Exchange, Virtual Networks, XBOX


This study examined the international social network of a bounded Battlefield 4 gaming clan considering social exchange theory. We found that more central members of the clan contributed more time and money to the clan than others. In addition, central members of this clan revived other members in-game more often. This study extends social exchange theory from face-to-face interaction to the virtual world, by showing communicative factors that influence online gaming networks, and to game studies by offering results applicable to online gaming clans. This study also shows how gamers engage in various social exchanges and earn central positions within the network in return for their investment of time, money, and communication.

Author Biographies

William T. Howe, University of Oklahoma

Doctoral Student

Department of Communication

William is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication with a focus on organizational communication and a specific interest in high reliability organizations (e.g. police, firefighters). William earned both his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Texas Christian University in communication studies. William has presented seven papers at national conferences and four papers at regional conferences. Last year William received a top paper award for one of these presentations. He was also awarded Master’s Thesis of the Year by the Master’s Division of the National Communication Association. A portion of this thesis was published in the Atlantic Journal of Communication. During his time at TCU he coached both speech and debate events; at the University of Oklahoma he has taught public speaking, principles of communication, small group communication, and graduate teaching assistant training.

Sun Kyong Lee, University of Oklahoma

Assistant Professor

Department of Communication

My research interests are trifold: mobile communication, virtual team work, and ethnic social networks. First, I study socio-cultural influences/consequences of communication technology uses particularly focusing on the area of mobile communication. Second, my research examines how virtual team members collaborate through using various communication technologies and how they make sense of their socio-technical work environment. Last, I am interested in studying immigrant social networking that is sustained by their communication media uses and how their networking influences intercultural development and civic engagement. My future research will be  a continuation and extension of the above three themes.

How to Cite
Howe, W. T., & Lee, S. K. (2018). Social exchange is in the game: Communication and resource flow in a Xbox gaming clan. First Monday, 23(8).