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Achievement and Frustration in MMORPGs

The rewards cycle and the well-textured layers of goals (hunting, crafting, questing) combine to create an environment where the seduction of self-achievement may grow very strong. The ability to become stronger, more competent, more skilled and more valued on a gradual but predictable basis can be intoxicating. Players were asked whether they derived a larger sense of achievement in the game or in their real lives. About 20% of players felt that they derived a larger sense of achievement in the game when compared with their real lives. While there were no gender differences (p = .48), age was mildly negatively correlated (r = -.14, p < .001) with feeling more achievement from the game. Users who felt a larger sense of achievement in the game spend significantly more time in the game than players who felt a larger sense of achievement in real life.

On the other hand, these games don't make it easy to advance in the higher levels, and advancement is often a path of trials. Thus, players were also asked whether they encountered more frustration and annoyances in the game or in real life. Overall, 22% of players indicated that they encountered more frustrations and annoyances in the game than in real life. There were no gender (p = .94) or age differences (r = -.07). Users who encountered more frustrations in the game do not spend any more time in the game than users who encountered more frustrations in real life. The only good predictor seemed to be whether the player was motivated to play to distress from real life (r = .17, p < .001). This makes sense because it is the users who want to relax who would be most frustrated by the annoyances of the game.

Finally, the two measures were not correlated (r = .00, p = .93), implying that whether a player derives more or less achievement in the environment has no bearing on whether they encounter more or less frustrations in the game when compared with real life.

Posted on April 15, 2004 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)


What is missing from this whole site is the addiction factor.

Addiction is often a result of preference of the virtual over the real world. This causes many social problems as well as mental ones from the obsession that can come from playing these style of games. In all your research you have adroidtly sidestepped this issue which means your site is biased.

I played for 4 years and they quit. I played again and quit again. It was taking over my life, it was causing me tremendous frustration, it was dis-associating me from the real world into a social vacuum. For no good reason my real life social contacts went to zero because I preferred my in-game ones.

What it amounts to is the time it takes to achieve anything is counter productive to people lives. The reality is that the majority of people DO NOT have this time available. If they make it available they are impacting on their real life significantly to do so. While these games may give personal satisfaction the net result of playing is Zero.

You might as well be in the "Matrix" because you are just idling as a human being. This is the damage that they cause. I support MMORPGS but like all things they must be taken in moderation. It is socially irresponsible to provide a virtual world 24x7 without options to curb the very human impulse to play for hours on end.

Limits must be available for the people that play them. I support a ten hours a week time limited accounts for the 10 dollars a month. But what about characters advancing faster? I support environments that only casual players can use. Then the playing field is even and their is social responsibility. This is where MMORPGs will mature because society will eventually curb the excesses we have now. People will realise what it is doing to them. It takes time but most people do. The lucky ones can give it away.

Posted by: Kevin Davies on May 11, 2004 2:35 PM

Kevin - Articles dealing with addiction can be found at:

These are also all available from the "Explore What's Available" widget on the main page.

Posted by: Nick Yee on May 11, 2004 6:52 PM

What is the formula to creating an addictive MMORPG and how can it be applied to education and training products?

Imagine if your students and trainees become so obsessed with the homework that they spend hours every day including weekends in obtaining the information and skills to master the training program (in MMORPG form), achieve virtual technical/practical expertise in the RL occupation, and apply that to solving problems associated to accomplishing an actual job related task.

Thank you,
Phantom Zone

Posted by: Phantom Zone on July 28, 2005 9:54 AM

help i dont know what to play anymore.started playing human age online liked it alot but want to find games just like it. is a challenge in disapointment.also i liked fore the ps2 colosseum road to freedom but i cant find any codes worth a darn. maybe a game list is needed to find hidden mmorpg and rpg gems?

Posted by: Tony Easterbrook on June 10, 2009 7:35 PM
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