A Brief Primer on Methods and Critiques
Biased sampling. But the underlying argument of the "age mismatch" critique is a valid one. For example, some argue that only hard-core players would care to fill out a survey. Or that younger players are too lazy to fill out surveys. Or that the informed consent for minors discourages participation. These critics then conclude that all findings derived from this biased sampling must therefore be flawed.
This is actually not the case. Let me show this with an example. We know that the real-life gender ratio is close to 50-50. On the other hand, we know that the gender ratio in MMOs is much closer to 85-15. Imagine that I ask MMO players to tell me their height in RL and I find that women are on average shorter than men. Is it the case that I cannot extend my finding to the real world because my gender ratio is significantly deviant from the actual ratio? Or is it the case that the validity of this particular finding isn't tied to overall sampling representativeness?
We need to make something clear. While it is true that my MMO dataset would show that the gender ratio is 85-15 (incorrect, since the RL ratio is 50-50), what I am trying to show is that this is independent from the secondary finding (that there is a height difference between the two genders). In other words, it is very possible to find gender differences, age differences, differences between Alliance vs. Horde, and so on even though the overall sampling may be a bit skewed.
And these secondary differences are what The Daedalus Project is more focused on. To me, knowing the precise gender ratio in MMOs is not very interesting. What is more interesting are gender differences (or age, or personality differences) in game play behavior. Thus, the critique of an overall biased sampling, even if it did exist, may have a negligible effect on the bulk of findings at The Daedalus Project. In other words, even if the real gender ratio was 75-25, it would probably still be the case that male players gender-bend more often than female players.
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