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Playing With Someone

Also, playing with people that are known from RL tends to be an enjoyable experiences for most of these gamers. The only gender difference appears to be among those who play with a romantic partner. Female players report more positive experiences with their romantic partners than male players report. Overall, these findings do show that the online game space can be seen as a place where existing RL ties are being strengthened.

So even though some critics of online games focus on how ephemeral online relationships are, it seems that most players play with someone they know from RL on a regular basis. It also helps us see these online games as places where existing RL ties are being strengthened rather than simply places where only virtual relationships are forged.


Posted on October 17, 2005 | Comments (21) | TrackBack (1)


Great stuff as usual, Nick - do you ever sleep?

I'm curious about the family relationships, though - if 33/8% of women are playing with their sons/daughters, why aren't more respondents reporting playing with their moms?

Posted by: Peter Edelmann on October 20, 2005 2:52 PM

Good question Peter. If the 33/8% is right, we would expect 6% of male players to be playing with moms and 8% of female players to be playing with moms. The number from the data file was 2% for both.

I think we're seeing the effect of two things. Because that data only takes into account players who play with families (thus a subset of the entire data set) and players who play with moms tend to be younger, any small variances among that small sample of young players is easily thrown off. And given the low percentage rates to begin with, that's probably partly why we're seeing the variance.

Also, I think we're seeing a mild bias of older players responding. And that too would shift the perentages around a little.

I think this is largely a matter of variance in very small percentages (we're talking 2%-8%) within a small part of a subset of the data.

Posted by: Nick Yee on October 20, 2005 7:39 PM

Haha, very good, I just wanted to say, what happened to the mothers who play with their sons? Not mentioned. I am sure I belong to that category and am not in it! Of course it could be the sons don't partake in the survey. My son certainly didn't.
Very fascinating study though!

LOL not too far in the future you have to put in grandparents and grandchildren as well! Please continue!

Posted by: Ellen Papenburg on October 20, 2005 7:56 PM

This is what I have always thought just by playing, but now there is hard fact. This is great. I think that it is information like this that is going to move us forward.

In the beginning gaming was all about getting together; it was a group experience. It was a great thing. But then, as gaming exploded, it sadly became an individual thing. People exiled them selves, making gaming an anti-social thing. But, with the advent of the MMO, gaming has once again been a social thing. However, many people still, sadly, see it as the anti-social thing that it was a few years ago.

I thank you greatly for doing things like this that move the image of what gaming is closer to what it really is.

Posted by: George Fosmire on October 21, 2005 12:22 AM

Hi Nick - more good stuff. Perhaps I haven't thought this through properly, but on page 3 of this article you have 18.7% of 525 respondents playing with their sons, but only 2.9% of respondents playing with their sons (and moms not listed). Something seems wrong - does this not perhaps reveal a serious bias in the participant selection? It would suggest to me that your sample is far older (i.e. more likely to be a father than a son) than the population. But as I say, perhaps I haven't thought this through carefully enough - this is a bit of an off-the-cuff comment as I fly through your fantastic work.

Posted by: Alasdair on October 21, 2005 2:40 AM

Who would ever admit to playing with their mom?

On another note, I never knew that 80% of people who play MMOs play them with relatives. How did you define "on a regular basis" in your survey? Once a day? A week? Or did you just ask respondents "Do you play with a family member/loved one on a regular basis?"? I think this is key in interpreting this data. For example, I would probably say (if asked) that I play WoW with my brother, but since our levels are vastly different, we've only met about half a dozen times in-game. Most of our interaction is with /tells (the WoW equivalent of instant messages).

Posted by: Capt_Poco on October 21, 2005 5:02 PM

Both me and my husband play with our son, though we generally play consoles with him, not MMO's due to his young age (and players being rude, foul mouths in MMOs). This is true for several of the mothers I know as well, for the same or similar reasons.

Glad to see the results. Hopefully more developers will consider the "duo" and family factor when designing games, as it is a growing part of the MMO population.

Posted by: Dee on October 22, 2005 3:31 AM

Good question Captain Poco. Respondents were asked "Do you play the game with your ____ ?" And then given these response choices:

- Never
- Seldom
- Sometimes
- Often
- Always

For the purposes of this analysis, those responses that were "sometimes, often, or always" were counted as "yes".

If we took a more conservative approach and only counted "often, always" as "yes", then the results would be:

- 10% play with family
- 16% play with a romantic partner
- 43% play with a friend

- 56% play with at least one of those 3 categories.

I agree though that a more precise measure (at least once a week) would have been helpful.

Posted by: Nick Yee on October 22, 2005 2:35 PM

*Really* interesting survey results -- as someone who plays City of Heroes with both my wife and seven RL friends (including two other husband/wife pairings) it's good to know that our situation is more common than it might seem.

Playing with friends adds a whole 'nother dimension to the game, and certainly kicks up the fun factor. Teaming and adventuring with people you actually know generally increases success rates and survivability as well, as the level of trust in your team's readiness to watch your back is substantially increased. :)

Posted by: Carto on October 24, 2005 6:44 PM

It's becoming more and more obvious that gaming isnt just a childrens pasttime anymore. It's and interesting phenominon, sort of. When you think about it though people who make products such as games and other retail items they are looking to capture as large of an audience as possible. So it is only logical that they would try to tap into and cater to as large a player base as possible when creating video games. MMO's traditionally have been just kind of a late night guy thing but with all the changes in the games these days with multiple draws for different types of people MMO's really just aren't for guys anymore. Nor are they for young people...more and more all sorts of people are drawn to these games and for various reasons.

As far as some of the questions left unanswered by this poll...what you will find is that the results aren't quite as random or representative as we would want them to be but they give us a very good idea as to what the MMo phenom has become.

Posted by: Jon on November 7, 2005 2:38 PM

You did a study that indicated that ~25% of female players were introduced by a romantic partner, yet in this study ~60% of women play with a romantic partner.

"Inside out" doesn't seem to indicate the required level of ingame romantic engagement to make up the numbers though. Could this be at least part of an indication of the "WoW effect" opening up the demographics from the older relationship surveys?

Posted by: Daniel Speed on November 8, 2005 9:53 AM

Female players who play with a romantic partner don't necessarily have to be introduced by a romantic partner. They might have found out about the game on their own as well. I think that's where most of the difference is coming from.

The 60% estimate from the recent data is surprisingly close to the old EQ data actually (which was at 70%).

Posted by: Nick Yee on November 8, 2005 12:16 PM

I was asked if I played with the children. The children are too young to play MMORPG's and if they were old enough I'm not sure we could afford the extra accounts. But if we could and if they WERE old enough, we'd definately play with them as well as with eachother.

Posted by: Dorothy Hawley on November 9, 2005 5:00 PM

I'm wondering how you draw this conclusion:

"Overall, these findings do show that the online game space can be seen as a place where existing RL ties are being strengthened."

I played EQ for two years with my significant other. I very much enjoyed this experience. He and I are no longer together, in large part due to lack of RL communication and interaction caused by his addiction and the fact that he could not seem to draw a distinction between the RL him and the virtual "him".

In my experience, "enjoyment" did in NO way equal strenghtening of ties - in fact quite the opposite. Consider that some people enjoy abusing drugs and/or alcohol together.

I'm not saying that the experience isn't or couldn't be a positive one for relationships. I'm only suggesting the data does not support that statement.

Posted by: Retired Druid on November 24, 2005 5:27 AM

I'd be interested to know how many people met their 'romantic partners' while playing the game, versus already being romanticly involved then introducing them to the game.

Posted by: Jonlee on December 4, 2005 5:19 PM

Interesting stuff, Nick. Honestly, it was RL friends that got me into MMORPGs in the first place. The same guys I started playing pen and paper RPG's with back in college, and before MMORPGs, they got me into HALO, etc.

Even in the game, I group with these guys first and foremost.

Posted by: MOGS on December 4, 2005 7:48 PM

Like all of your articles, Nick, this one is fascinating. It also poses at least as many additional questions as it answers.

How about these: How many male/female MMO players play with a romantic partner who ISN'T his/her spouse?

To what extent do extramarital (if merely "virtual") "affairs" result from relationships nurtured by MMO game play?

Posted by: Gary on December 13, 2006 12:14 PM

Hi Nick,
I'm from Romania, and I am fascinated of this subject. I'm senior at the Univesity Sapientia, and I would like to conduct a survey about MMO-s at my universty. Could you help me please??? If the survey is good and the results concludent I will include them in my final exam.
Thank you,

Posted by: Mihaly Czeran on February 20, 2007 8:24 AM

i am a mother who plays with her sons and daughters in law...55 yr old female who prefers to play dwarves :D

and yes, i met my romantic partner in of warcraft ftw!

Posted by: wildrose on May 31, 2007 6:26 AM

I wish that you could get some stats on the "older" WOW players. I'm 56 y/o and self employed and enjoy playing to decompress. Most everyday I play during my lunchtime. I know that I am the age some of my guildies grandfathers'. It gets a bit weird when discussions turn to school etc.. I volunteer no advice since that would really turn off everyone.LOL.
There has to be some other 50 + players out there.

Posted by: Jim on May 31, 2007 8:04 AM

Jim you should check out it is actually a group of older gamers from the age of 25 and up who are part of the gaming community. I am actually a member of one of their guilds on WoW on the Runetotem server. It is a great resource for those of us who are older and would like to game with other adults.

Posted by: Riesiel on May 31, 2007 9:23 AM
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