Communication / Relationship Skills

Previous results showed that a significant portion of MMORPG players do tell their online friends about personal issues and secrets that they have never told their real-life friends (link), and these results hint at how these virtual worlds provide a different kind of communication channel than face-to-face communication provides. When respondents were asked whether they felt more comfortable expressing themselves and communicating through typed chat as opposed to face-to-face, it was interesting to find a near-perfect normal distribution.

While there were no gender differences, there were significant age differences.

Respondents were also asked whether their MMORPG experiences have helped them be better communicators in real life, or whether it has helped them in forming and sustaining relationships in real life. About 1/5 of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their MMORPG experiences have made them more comfortable with face-to-face communication. There were no significant gender or age differences.

While there were no significant gender differences, there were significant age differences. In particular, younger players were more likely to have benefited from their MMORPG experiences.

The safe, anonymous environment that an MMORPG provides may very well facilitate individuals overcoming their real-life anxieties about communication and relationships, and provide them with a variety of practice settings. This is one of the many reasons why it doesn’t make sense to think of MMORPGs as “just games” – because it denies the existence of the transfer of experience and lessons that occurs all the time.