I plan to study the Smashboards forum, an Internet forum dedicated to discussion of the Super Smash Bros. game series.
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In particular, I plan to study the nature of community behavior surrounding something intrinsically competitive; for instance, do friendly conversations tend to have aggressive undertones? What about rivalries between different users, or even between sub-factions of the community? If substantial, do the aggressive undertones of these relationships undermine the integrity of the community?
I expect to observe, in particular, the behavior and nature of elites within the community, a number of signs adopted by the community and their interpretations or subversions, and if possible, an interpretation of competitive gameplay as a form of communication between competitors.