Fractal organization in MMOs

One of my favorite pet topics is using MMOs (online games) to understand questions of social structure and economics. Benedikt Fuchs looked at social structure in the game Pardus:

But exactly what kinds of structures form and to what extent these groupings depend on the environment is still the subject of much debate. So an interesting question is whether humans form the same kinds of structures in online worlds as they do in real life…

…[they] have studied the groups humans form when playing a massive multiplayer online game called Pardus. Their conclusion is that humans naturally form into a fractal-like hierarchy in which people belong to a variety of groups on different scales. In fact, the formation of hierarchies seems to be an innate part of the human condition.

They find groups that are progressively larger: (1) individuals, (2) close friends, (3) other friends, (4) ‘alliances’, (5) communication, and (6) everyone. These aren’t necessarily subsets of each other, either (ie, friends may be outside of alliances). They claim that these groups exhibit a fractal structure that is seen in other human societies, though I think that just means that each group is progressively larger…

Incidentally, I had never heard of Pardus before but now I desperately want to play… if only I had free time.


Fuchs B, Sornette D, & Thurner S (2014). Fractal multi-level organisation of human groups in a virtual world arXiv


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