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Introduction: The RL Demographics of World of Warcraft

In the last survey, WoW players (N = 1019) were asked to list the character on their account that they enjoy playing the most currently. While not a comprehensive measure of all characters a player has, it is hoped that sufficiently interesting information could be extracted from this crude measure. The goal of most of the articles in this issue of the Daedalus Project is to explore how RL demographics and motivations intersect with in-game race, class, and gender. For example, are younger players more likely to prefer certain classes? Whatís the RL gender distribution of in-game characters? Which character classes do min-maxers prefer?

Most of the individual differences listed are hard to interpret alone, but overall a coherent picture seems to emerge. For example, consider the consistent clustering of Undead and Tauren on one side and the clustering of Gnome and Dwarf on the other side in the race differences article. Another example is the Shaman. Players who prefer the Shaman are significantly different in several consistent ways. They tend to be younger, more achievement-driven, and more likely to be min-maxers.

Who we choose to be in cyberspace depends on who we are in the real world. Players who choose to play Dwarves are not the same players as those who choose to play Night Elves. The same is even more true for the different classes. This intersects with class balancing in two interesting ways. First, the differing quality of classes effectively drives away or attracts different play motivations. For example, nerfing Rogues may have a significant effect on driving away younger, achievement-driven players. Second, more achievement-driven players may be more vocal with class enhancements and more likely to get them. Click here for an overview of the motivations framework that the rest of the articles will reference.

The survey data also provides a different way of understanding and complementing the PlayOn census data. The play patterns of different classes can now be understood in terms of motivational and demographic differences. The character classes that were shown to have the quickest leveling times (Mage, Priest, Shaman, and Rogue; see PlayOn data) are also the character classes that score highest on the advancement motivation. The survey data highlights the importance of taking individual differences into account when interpreting the PlayOn census data. I havenít had time to compare all the survey data with the census data, so if you spot any interesting patterns, please feel free to comment about it below.

And to all the respondents who don't play WoW, I have not abandoned other MMOs. This was just a good opportunity to provide a detailed demographic exploration of one game in particular.




Comments

As usual, fascinating stuff!

You might like to clean up the "TrackBack" for this...looks like some schemer has found a way to advertise their inappropriate content. :(

Posted by: Dave on September 28, 2005 8:46 PM

Um... how did hunters not end up in the 'fastest leveling times' group?

Posted by: Jesse on August 30, 2006 5:04 PM

It may be because players who choose to play Hunters are older in general and less competitive about leveling fast (relative to other things in the game). In addition to class differences (in terms of game mechanics), the players who choose to play one class may be different (in terms of personality and motivation) than players who choose to play another class.

Posted by: Nick Yee on August 30, 2006 5:19 PM

Pop trio Atomic Kitten will reform to play a concert in support of jailed Liverpool football fan Michael Shields...

Posted by: Pablo Shah on December 13, 2006 4:09 PM

very cool, and accurate. i play a shaman in WoW, and am a min-maxer, and am a younger player. creepy how this is so accurate.......

Posted by: stevio on August 16, 2007 7:46 PM

I'm just curious: how did you select the surveyed players? I'm interested because you could have very easily introduced a bias to the data by, say, posting a survey form on a forum, which certain demographics might frequent more than others, etc.

Posted by: dardanus on December 15, 2010 6:27 PM
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Note: To decrease potential comment spam, comments with a link element will be moderated and will not appear immediately. Comments with more than one link are junked automatically. With regards to content, comments that contain profanity, slurs, or similar words may be censored or deleted entirely. Also, posts that are simply trolls, flames, or personal attacks have a good chance of being removed. The same applies to posts requesting character trades or asking for game-specific help.

 

Tribal design by snoopydoo. Crusader graphic by Gravity. All other materials available at The Daedalus Project are copyright 2003-2006 by Nick Yee.