Anthropology isn't my thing, but I like the idea of a "game anthropologist"; the column at GameSetWatch with that exact title is young yet, but had an interesting look at Team Fortress 2 this week. What exactly makes the environment seem so much more mature than other FPS? The older user base? The official taunts and animations that render inelegant cursing obsolete? Because team playing really is built into the game? Mike Walbridge isn't exactly sure, but has some ideas:
Exactly why most teammates are polite, patient, and helpful in a game that is violent and wildly popular is not easily answered, but I have some good ideas. The players seem older, and this may be because of its predecessor, Team Fortress Classic, which predates TF 2 by 10 years. Someone who is 24 may remember TFC, but someone who is 15 will not. I'm not saying it's devoid of teenagers-but there are a lot more people in their 20s and there are a lot more women on voice chat online as well, signs of a more mature audience and community.
Or maybe it's the medic class. Or the critical hits? Or the team atmosphere ....
Steve at PlayNoEvil had an interesting take on the article, pulling out the critical issue as "the topic of griefing and how Valve's Team Fortress 2 seems to have less 'annoying griefing' because the game provides structured 'official griefing'."
Since a lot of griefing and abuse on Xbox Live and elsewhere comes from the rather inarticulate swearing of teenagers, perhaps the simple fact of giving players powerful, fun, but non-obscene, racially insensitive, or other insults makes the need to swear ... less.
Perhaps there's something to the idea. Hopefully there will be more interesting 'anthropological' explorations of games from this relatively new column in the future.
The Game Anthropologist: Team Fortress 2: Radical Departures [GameSetWatch via PlayNoEvil]