I am unsurprised to see that there is a fresh paper out that states that there are strong mathematical commonalities between gang formation and guild formation. (I am also unsurprised to see Nic Ducheneaut and Nick Yee among the authors of the paper).
In particular, we find that the evolution of gang-like groups in the real and virtual world can be explained using the same team-based group-formation mechanism. In contrast to the quantitative success of our team-based model, we find that a homophilic version of the model fails. Our findings thus provide evidence that online guilds and offline gangs are both driven by team-formation considerations rather than like-seeking-like. Interestingly, each server’s Internet protocol (IP) address seems to play an equivalent role to a gang ethnicity.
The source data comes from WoW guilds and from Long Beach CA street gangs — and with lots and lots of data points to boot.
What’s the mathematical model underlying the two? Well, it’s a basically pragmatic approach to team-building: