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WoW Basic Demographics

Apart from presenting the basic demographics from both RL (age, gender) and in-game (class, race), the goal of this short article is also to anchor the survey data with comprehensive WoW census data (from WarcraftRealms.com). While demonstrating consistency between the two sets of data doesnt mean that there is no sampling bias with the survey data, it does make it more plausible that the survey data is representative of a large percentage of WoW players. This kind of comparison with perfect comprehensive data has been mostly impossible with my past data sets, so Im glad that this comparison can be made to anchor the other articles in this issue of the Daedalus Project.

Ill start with the in-game demographics and make direct comparisons with census data from WarcraftRealms.com from the same time period (June 2005). The distribution of the 8 races match up pretty well. With the distribution of the 9 classes, Priests and Warriors seem to be off a little.

In terms of Alliance / Horde ratio, the numbers match up pretty well. WarcraftRealms has a ratio of 1.6:1. The survey data has a ratio of 1.7:1 (646 Alliance vs. 373 Horde characters).

From the survey data, the average age of the WoW player is 28.3 (SD = 8.4). 84% of players are male. 16% are female. Female players are significantly older (M = 32.5, SD = 10.0) than male players (M = 28.0, SD = 8.4). On average, they spend 22.7 (SD = 14.1) hours per week playing WoW. There are no gender differences in hours played per week.




Comments

Sorry I'm not proficient in statistics - is 'M' mean or median? If mean, what are the median ages for male and female players?

Posted by: Charles on August 8, 2005 6:45 PM

I just finished up a statistics course in college (not that it qualifites me to answer) but if you are using a normal distribution (aka bell curve), then M would actually be both mean and median. According to what I learned this term, and based on the assumption this data is normally distributed, if you'd like to calculate your percentile (how many people are at or below your age or hours/week) then you subtract your value(age or hours played/week) from the mean, then divide this by the standard deviation (SD). This will give you a Z value which can be looked up on the internet or in any standard statistics book. It corrosponds to a Z-stable of probabilities.

~Eric Betts
bettse@onid.orst.edu

Posted by: Eric Betts on August 14, 2005 10:56 PM

The assumption of a normal distribution seems sloppy here.

Posted by: Silowyi on August 24, 2005 2:26 PM

The median age is 27 for male players and 31 for female players. Pretty close to the means.

Posted by: Nick Yee on August 24, 2005 5:53 PM

morgan r. referred me to your site cuz i was looking for some wow demographics. this is awesome! nice work!

Posted by: emily on September 23, 2005 3:30 PM

I would find it most interesting to see a break down by age and maybe by character type too. Yes, I read the blurb about the "grandmother who plays but,how old "is" she ...40's, 50's, 60's...? I'm almost 56 y/o and self employed and play everyday at lunch or any other down time in the office. Not a dedicated gamer per say but I do enjoy it. My son (27 y/o) and I group and have a ball together and I learn a lot from him, an ex-Evercrack player. It's in control, for us both.

Posted by: Zynx on October 18, 2005 8:37 AM

That's good to hear, it's great for us "old-school" gamers to see family groups and so forth, our childhood dreams coming true :)

The problem with analysing data like this is that it only comes from a biased sample i.e., the people willing to download a census/logging client. In other words, you're talking about people who are move "into" the game than perhaps your average player might be. Remember that WoW's strength as an MMORPG has always been it's market penetration, thanks to the massive publicity simply having the word "Warcraft" in the title gives it.

The only people who have the numbers to be able to do a statistical analysis of WoW players are Blizzard, and they aren't talking :P Nonetheless, it's nice to see the microcosm pattern, keep up the good work.

Posted by: Sam on November 9, 2005 5:00 AM

Yeah i agree with sam, it is a bit of a biased, sample the average age could be a lot lower in reality, in my opinion as younger gamers, (10-19 for example) might be a lot less likely to be involved with the two data collection methods

Posted by: Calvin on September 29, 2006 12:08 AM

Is this going to be updated? The customer base has expanded hugely since July 2005.

Posted by: Weotch on December 30, 2006 1:29 PM

This is really interesting. I believe the current average age of a U.S. videogamer is 30 overall. I have a membership with WoW and I am a 26 yr old female. It would be interesting to see if male players usually choose male toons. From what Ive seen most of the online characters are male. Great work!

Posted by: Hannah on January 4, 2007 1:42 PM

I'm VERY surprised at how low a population that paladins and warlocks make up, along with the orc race - GNOME MAGES FTW /FLEX WE ARE TEH DONNAGE!!

Posted by: PBX on January 6, 2007 12:03 PM

I can see the large attraction to people wanting to playing Night Elves (cuz their history is the coolest ^^), but I can't understand why no one would want to play orcs...They're THE MAIN part of the horde. :S

Posted by: NeHuNtEr26 on January 10, 2007 11:07 AM

NE are the prettiest of characters before TBC so I can see why they would be so high,and the reason why nobody plays orcs is cause A) the other classes have much better racials for the classes (tauren for warriors, troll for hunters and rogues, tauren/troll for shaman, and undead make cooler locks) they have and B) the only way an orc looks cool in my opinion is in full tier 3 or sumthin like that.

PS. I do Realize I am a little late for the post

Posted by: Kelly C on April 11, 2007 9:11 PM

Yeah Id have to say the coolest looking races are the two elf races and the undead race, plus undeads have the best mounts :P booyah

Posted by: Eric on May 26, 2007 5:07 PM

nice to see statistics, but lately a lot of kids play it and ruin the admophere on a lot of realms. 12 year old kids who have the fealing: we are the power.(roumanians moastly)
if someone has knowledge of a realm where avg player age is 16+ please notify me here :D

Posted by: shoetrax on July 30, 2007 10:31 AM

I would imagine there are a number of players that slip under ther census radar that, if included, would change the satistics. I'm a 57 y/o, self employed player. Not many of us out there huh? My son is 28 and he and I play together when we can. He, my son, is the average and I think I would fall in a more rare catagory. We have fun and it is great stress relief.

Posted by: Zynx on August 24, 2007 5:52 AM

Not to nit-pick, but you can't use the word 'significant' if the difference is within a standard deviation. Needs to be 2-3 SD to do that. When you are writing scientifically, try to be more accurate and precise. Good job with survey!

Posted by: Rob on September 17, 2007 5:53 PM

Rob - I think you're confusing the normal distribution with the t-test. The listed means and standard deviations are significant in a t-test:

http://www.graphpad.com/quickcalcs/ttest1.cfm?Format=SD

Besides, it would be crazy if the women had to be on average 20-30 years older than the men to reach significance :)

Posted by: Nick Yee on September 17, 2007 7:31 PM

You are right, my apologies! I'm not used to social stats. Next time i'll leave it to the experts :)

Posted by: Rob on September 18, 2007 1:53 PM

Does your demographics show which servers the older adults play on?

Like is there any particular server that has more aged players then another?

Posted by: Susan on October 11, 2007 10:33 AM

as an older gamer (40), i'm interested in the answer to Susan's question, too. i have been having lots of fun playing on the server i'm on, but i'd love to find players closer to my age. i *know* they're out there! i've ran on quests with people who, upon finding out my age, said "whoa - you're older than my parents!", ha.

Posted by: frank on October 25, 2007 8:54 AM

Frank, the best suggestion I can make is to join or form a guild that is comprised of older individuals. If you're making your own, just advertise that the guild is for mature players only -- they'll come to you. I find that players of a particular age group seem to naturally clump together and form a guild.

Posted by: Toby on November 8, 2007 12:46 PM

thanks for the tip, Toby. actually, since i posted that comment i have found a really nice guild on the server i'm on. i have no idea of their age breakdowns, but everyone i've met so far and interacted with has been really great. really helpful, really chatty and fun, and no teen drama. i'm really loving this game.
: )

Posted by: frank on November 14, 2007 12:48 PM

I just wanted to say a HUGE thankyou to Nick Yee as i am currently doing a dissertation on WoW and have found his work extremely useful, esp the stuff that was published in Games and Culture, and it has in fact helped me to narrow down my research question. Thank you so much.
Rachael Morton

Posted by: Rachael on November 25, 2007 6:09 PM

I see over the past year or so there have been comments made by older/"old school" gamers regarding just how many of us are there in WOW. Good idea Toby, forming a guild or or joining a server that is populated by players that are older is a great idea. How would be another question. Stop by Kilrogg server and say hi. Zynx 70 Tauren Druid AH.

Posted by: Zynx on November 27, 2007 10:42 AM

I agree. Normal distribution of players ages seems wrong. I would be expecting it to be lognormally distributed with a mean of about 12.

LOL.

Jokes ofcourse.

Posted by: Michael on December 4, 2007 6:52 AM

To the people worried about bias in the results of the census data, it was described as "comprehensive WoW census data" meaning every single WoW player who played the game during the time of the census would've been included. That's what a census is - when you collect data for 100% of the population.

Posted by: mage5625 on December 7, 2007 3:28 AM

i'm loving these statistics!

i'm currently writing a paper for college on the "world of warcraft" not meaning the game itself, but the people who play it.

very helpful!

Posted by: Bill on December 11, 2007 6:44 AM

Well done! This is some of the most interesting information I have ever run across regarding WoW.

Posted by: Josh on January 4, 2008 3:53 AM

It's time for an update; a lot in WOW changed since the original publication of this document, so I'd expect that a follow-up would show significant changes in the population.

Posted by: Bradford C. Walker on January 17, 2008 12:50 PM

Wow thanks for this :) gonna use this data to my math project about wow lol

Posted by: Johan on January 28, 2008 2:53 AM

I agree with the people saying there needs to be a new update of this information. I see more blood elfs than I can count most days, and I suspect there will be a decrease in night elfs and humans as a result of this. An updated study would be very interesting indeed, hehe.

Posted by: Ryno on April 18, 2008 9:26 AM

Interesting, the age of us gamers, that the spread is so wide. I know of one player that is just 6, and I do know some others, 65, 68, and for the record, I am 70. I think wow is a very good brain exerciser. Have fun, be nice, enjoy.

Posted by: MLJ on April 23, 2008 10:15 AM

How does one find players their age on the WoW servers? I'm a 56 Female and would absolutely love to play the game with people closer to my age. Any advice? I have characters on Darkspear and Forgotten Coast (Alliance) and Bloodscalp for the Horde.

Thanks,
NRK

Posted by: on April 25, 2008 9:02 AM

In refrence to NRK look for guilds named like old fart, elders, etc.

Posted by: Ed Hill on June 20, 2008 12:40 PM

hey! any of you guys know where i can find a 2008 survey???

Posted by: Varrok on July 7, 2008 4:17 AM

I'm glad I found this site! However, I couldn't find the information I'm looking for. My husband (41) devotes between 18 and 30 hrs. a week with WoW. Problem is, he has a job (he's an academic), a wife (me), and 2 kids (8 and 5). What are the demographics for players who are married with children?

Thanks!

Posted by: Ann on July 19, 2008 5:53 PM

Greetings ;
Ive been playing WoW for almost 3 years now, and still enjoying it. Seeing I accidently came across this site, I couldn't leave w/o braggin a lil bit. Im happy to say that im 68 years old - retired , and play way too much :P. So if you like you can add me to your age stats :). p.s. I play on alliance side - server - area 52. Cheers.

Posted by: Gazonka on September 23, 2008 8:29 AM

It's refreshing to see the number of "older" players still at it. I'm a single 65 yr old male on the Lethon server, with 5 human characters (Alliance) ranging from a level 25 priest to a 70 warrior. It is amusing to sometimes hear a quest partner tell me that his Mom has told him it's time to go to bed. I know I'm certainly old enough to be the grandparent of many players... but the game helps me feel younger...obviously entertaining for all age groups!

Posted by: jgk on October 8, 2008 12:10 PM

These stats are very interesting, and I thank you for them. Seeing the average age as 26+ is definately a surprise, as I had suspected that it was closer to 12 years old. Seriously.

I'm glad to be proven wrong. I'm only 17 myself, but I love playing with older and more mature players, so it's good to know that the annoying little brother-types are a minority. Any chance that we can get some 2009 stats though, maybe a few months after Wrath releases? With the release of Blood Elves and the Paladin Class, I'm sure the numbers for the Humans and Night Elves have dropped.

Cheers!
~Tyrannath, level 70 Paladin, Lightninghoof

Posted by: Chris on October 15, 2008 6:42 AM

Could you please update this? I think with all the new players WoW has accumulated through the past three years that the number of female players is much higher.

Posted by: Mirri on October 26, 2008 9:47 PM

This is awesome info - it may be a bit different now, but as a 26 year old female gamer it's nice to know that everyone I quest with on WoW isn't just 12, but 6-70! :)

Posted by: Mo on December 2, 2008 12:09 AM

This is awesome eye-opener. I am a 57 yr old female. Ive been playing WoW for about 1 1/2 years. I didn't know there were so many older adults playing. I have characters on a few realms. Do you think people are honest in the surveys about their age?

Posted by: Lu on February 10, 2009 3:51 PM

Why wouldn't they be honest? I'm fairly certain that this survey was/is anonymous, as most are.

Posted by: Erik on February 10, 2009 6:25 PM

My husband and I (age 64 and 57) were given WOW for Christmas by our son. We play our character together on Aszune server, playing 4-5 hours a night when we are home. We have just discovered the fun of working in a group, but are so slow on the keyboard with social responses compared with the younger players.
Thanks for this site. It's good to see the stats.

Posted by: Alarye on May 16, 2009 4:48 AM

That's awesome! I wish i had cool parents that played WoW, unfortunately they are in the video games makes you evil and aggressive group.

Posted by: Krys on June 21, 2009 8:39 AM

From what i see form this survey, humans and night-elves were the most popular in 2005. I doubt peoples preferences changed now in 2009 but as i have played WoW i observed how many ppl disliked gnomes and night-elves. The superiority of those the last race i mentined surprises me, as their skin colors and starting zone made every person i know distance themselves from the race. I did expect to be pretty high on the chart as the night-elves are the only ones in the Alliance who can be druids, but still, first along with the humans? That had to make me raise an eyebrow.

Posted by: Sebastian Scinteie on July 10, 2009 9:36 AM

Updated stats for 2010, please!

Posted by: Manzarek on March 15, 2010 8:35 PM

Nick,
hat is the youngest age of players in your demographic study?
Fred.

Posted by: Fred on May 27, 2010 9:35 AM

I'm still exploring your site and it will certainly be useful for my graduation project (MS in Software Engineering), I'm still working on my project proposal but it will be related to WoW battleground statistics.

I'm an older, female player, and I do play with my husband and sometimes with my son (he's only 9 and it's not a game for his age, but he enjoys it, and that's fine as long as he always plays with us).

Posted by: Claudia Hoag on August 20, 2010 1:23 PM

And I thought I was playing with a bunch of prepubescents. Very refreshing stats, although I don't know if they still hold as of 2010.

Posted by: Selvine on October 4, 2010 8:26 AM

I just dont get how both old people and young can be so interested in wasting so many hours playing a stupid game like this, to be honest it makes me wounder where the world is going.

I have a couple of friends that dont do anything else than play WoW, they dont work, earn a income or anything. They live at their parents place.. Now thats a bright future. lol.

I feel sorry for you guys, seriously.

And I always thought the majority was 14 years old, considering how WoW is.

Posted by: Andy on December 19, 2010 10:33 AM

Andy,you should go to an anti wow site to make such remarks, obviously people are here for research purposes...

Posted by: dillian on January 14, 2011 11:06 AM

the easy explanation for these "mature" ages is that back in 2005, WoW was nothing more then an underground game, and you had to pay with a credit card in order to play.

Now, with so many paying options, the huge popularity, and the millions of $$ they made out of the game its much more likely that these numbers are dropped by atleast 10 years

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