Growing Out of Its Skin: Principles of the Evolution and Extension of the Internet Chess Club, 1995 to Present
From Virtual Communities
Mark Ginsburg, University of Arizona
The Internet Chess Club, or ICC, is a highly successful virtual gaming community. This paper examines the evolution from its 1995 inception as a pure gaming community to the present day as a successful business with over 26,000 paid members. We give a particular focus on the underlying qualities the ICC possesses in order to succeed and grow such as utilization of real-world credibility indicators (titles), a robust economic system, and mechanisms for user-contributed feature extensions. As ICC expands in scope and scale, its segmentation strategies are analyzed as well as the impact of these extensions on its business strategy. The paper also discusses a novel method of data collection in an online community; the use of a participant/observer software agent to poll the community at regular intervals at collect data as well as promote a voluntary questionnaire as part of its service to the ICC community. Data collected by the agent in its first month of operation are analyzed and discussed.