Leadership can be an interesting topic of study, as one tries to discover the intricacies that make someone a good leader and the reason a leadership structure is needed in the first place. When it comes to survival, it makes sense that the most experienced and skilled persons would direct those less capable than they, but what about in games? That is the question researchers at Penn State sought to answer by analyzing 54,000 posts by 2500 players of an augmented reality game.
Leading up to the release of Halo 2, Microsoft created the I Love Bees game that had players decoding messages that sent them to payphones, for additional information. Naturally players communicated with each other to work together and discover the clues, and even though there was no formal leadership structure to the game, the players developed their own. Pouring over the posts at various websites and forums, the researchers made the interesting discovery that these generated leadership structures actually mimicked military leadership structures in both design and even designation. One group actually established generals to handle strategies, lieutenants to deal with specific tactics, and privates to follow orders, but none of the players were assigned their rank; they naturally selected their own.
Despite the similarities to the US military leadership structure, the researchers point out that very few of the players had any military experience to draw from. The leadership structures the players employed just spontaneously emerged from their desire to play the game most effectively.
Source: Penn State