Primary Motivations

In past data, I've tended to explore player motivations as a collection of components. While that method of analysis made it easy to compare age and gender differences, one drawback was that it was difficult to compare one motivation against another. For example, overall, are certain motivations more popular than others?

To get at this question, I asked players to read through a set of motivations and pick the one that was most important to them. The motivations were generated from earlier findings:

- Becoming powerful
- Making progress
- Competing with others
- Analyzing game mechanics

- Socializing with others
- Making good friends
- Working with others in a team

- Exploring the world
- Role-playing
- Escaping from RL problems
- Customizing your character
- Being immersed in the MMO


Overall, the top three motivations were: 1) making progress, 2) being immersed in the MMO, and 3) exploring the world. The bottom three motivations were: 1) escaping from RL problems, 2) role-playing, and 3) becoming powerful. It was interesting to see that the sense of making progress was the most popular motivation by a fair margin and that players seemed to differentiate it from the seemingly similar motivation of becoming powerful that was much less popular. And while it is no surprise to regular MMO players, it bears pointing out that it is ironic that role-playing is one of the least important motivations in online role-playing games.


If we split the rankings by gender, we see several interesting patterns. The graph below is sorted by broad motivation category (i.e., achievement, social, and immersion) and then popularity. First of all, we see that there were no substantial differences between genders in the top three motivations (i.e., progress, immersion, and explore). Within the achievement category, we see that men were about 3 times more likely to pick competition, analysis, and power as their primary motivation than women. And within the social category, women were about twice as likely to pick socializing and making friends as their primary motivation than men. It is worth noting that within both the achievement and social categories, there was one component where gender differences were comparatively minor, the progress and teamwork motivations respectively.


If we collapse across the motivation categories, we get the following graph. Overall, the immersion components have a slight edge against the other two motivations and are equally appealing to both men and women. For the achievement and social categories, we see a flip by gender. Men were about 50% more likely to select an achievement motivation as their primary motivation, while women were about 50% more likely to select a social motivation as their primary motivation.


And finally, let's take a look at age differences. The following graph shows the average age of the respondents who selected particular motivations as their primary motivation. Consistent with findings elsewhere, players driven by power and competition tend to be younger. The motivations with the highest average age were exploration, immersion, and socializing. It's interesting to note that the motivations with lower average ages suggest a more "hard-core" mentality while the motivations with the higher average ages suggest a more "casual" mentality.