And thus, it is when we focus on the strength of relationships formed online where we see the largest gender differences. When we ask players whether their best friend is someone they met in an MMO, women are about 3 times as likely as men to say yes.
Thus, the story about gender and socializing is a bit more nuanced than simply that women like to socialize and men don't. In fact, both men and women seem to enjoy socializing - chatting and hanging out with friends. And both men and women often make good friends with others they meet online. Where men and women do differ is the kind of relationship they want. It appears that men are more likely to draw harder boundaries between their physical and virtual spaces; men are less likely to talk about personal issues with friends they have met online. On the other hand, women see a softer boundary between the physical and virtual spaces and are more willing to share personal issues with friends they make online.
This may be unique to Eve, but there's one more stage past Recovery: The Bungee Hero. Burned out on playing the PvP game regularly, he drops into chat every few weeks to wave while he sets skills, and watches the corp message board, then drops in when something really interesting or bad for the alliance is happening, fights the good fight, then the bungee cord snaps him back out and he's back to semi-retirement. I seem to have become one of those, and thinking about, FIX has had a few dozen at critical events.
It's often been said that Eve is the game *no-one* leaves for good.
I wonder how many of those "best friends" women mention are also RL friends?
I did find my best friend via EQ1-- b/c after a year of 6 of us hanging out every night, she said "you have to come visit!" So we did.
And she's now my best RL friend-- I drive the 8 hrs each way about every 2 months.
But as of May it will be 25 minutes b/c I'm moving to her state. Not just b/c she my friend, but b/c through her I am now part of an entire circle of wonderful supportive women friends whose guild I've joined.
No, not an EQ guild! My friend hasn't played in *years,* nor has her husband.
A quilt guild! She's turned me into a quilter. My new house will have an 700 sq ft quilt studio and computer office where I can quilt all day and EQ all night :)
I would not consider any other(but one)of my game friends "real" friends in the same way, though I have several, including some I've visited or who have visited me IRL. If you have nothing significant to talk about but your game when you meet IRL, it's not a "real" friendship in my mind (even if you've shared RL experiences regularly).
Think of it this way: if you could never mention your game to each other again, would you still have enough to talk about and do together for it to be a "friendship"? If not ... it's not.
I'm just curious as to what statistics were run on the data collected for this other than the charts presented? It seems some of the differences are really obvious e.g. my best friend is someone I met on an mmo. Did you calculate any group differences statistics and significance tests? I'm just curious what the Cohen's d might be for instance.
Sahara - For the "best friend" question, Cohen's d is .42 (r = .21). Because of the sample size, most every group comparison is significant. I usually don't list effect sizes because it's just confusing for non-stats people and the graphs usually can give a good sense of the effect size.
How do the gender differences stack up when compared to RL trends? Are the results because men generally form less 'serious' friendships or is it a part of keeping up boundaries between RL and the MMO? Most of my old WoW guild was people I knew RL before the game was released, and even when we meet face to face they still talk mostly about the game rather than current events. Prior to WoW they talked about other games they were all playing.
The in-game behaviour differences are very interesting though.
I was head of a 300+ Guild in SWG. I attemped to lend a friendly ear to all my Guildies and to help them enjoy their game experience as much as possible. Five of my female players began to share all their personal r/l issues with me and two were obviously having serious problems with their husbands. Between answering my daily Emails and providing them with a sympathetic ear, I came to realize my playing time and enjoyment of SWG had rapidly diminished. SWG is a very social game with all the time spent in Cantinas to interact with the Dancers and Healers. I finally quit the Guild and left the game due to the burden of r/l issues.
This also dovetails with the findings of the motivations of play scale, developed by Nick. It was found there was a significantly higher score for females than males on the sub-component of relationship formation, akin to disclosing personal details. The above survey provides a little more validity for that motivations of play scale.
I've made some great friends from FFXI. I've been playing in New Zealand for 3 years and this year I visited them in the states. So much fun! I know that almost all of the people I met on my holiday will be friends for a long time to come.
Intriguing. My experience in the game is pretty different, though I wonder if it's due to the prevalence of men that I interact with (I am one of three women in a guild of fifty and I tend to socialize more with men than members of my own gender). I've gained the reputation of having a sympathetic ear and many close friends have come to me to unburden themselves when they have matters in their life that are upsetting them. Overwhelmingly, the topic tends to be regarding failed marriages or relationships, which is ironic given the fact that I have never been married before, have not been in a relationship with anyone in almost two years now, and tend to be younger than them.