Study: MMOG communities mimic real life

Understanding how the mind of a massively multiplayer online gamer works could be considered by some as the first step down the perilous road of insanity. Be that as it may, a variety of researchers have been drawn to the socio-behavioral impacts of MMOGs over the years, and the latest group to do...

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Understanding how the mind of a massively multiplayer online gamer works could be considered by some as the first step down the perilous road of insanity. Be that as it may, a variety of researchers have been drawn to the socio-behavioral impacts of MMOGs over the years, and the latest group to do so hails from a number of top universities in the US.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Southern California have teamed to take a look at Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest II in an effort to better understand social dynamics in real-world societies. As reported by the University of Minnesota's MN Daily, the results of the research show that online populaces have become large enough to accurately mimic traditional communities.

To arrive upon that finding, researchers collected data over a period of three years, analyzing users' server logs and click streams to track all actions performed by players in EQII. Due to the wide variety of tasks that players undertake, the research team found that they were able to use the game as an accurate proxy for studying human behavior.

The study notes that more than 300,000 players subscribe to EQII, spending on average 26 hours per week on Norrath's shores. That subscription figure, of course, represents a small fraction of World of Warcraft's 11.5-million-strong army, but who's counting?

Discussion

48 comments
Zolorunnin
Zolorunnin

Still cant top my favoriot study. "Dieting connected to weight loss."

Jonnyd108
Jonnyd108

11.5 million WoW subscribers. So basically that's 11.5 million people who have no lives.

bogi7
bogi7

Has anybody been asked to participate in this study or did sony give access to the accounts logs?...just wondering

totaleklypse
totaleklypse

yes gamespot your check is in the mail for the shameless WOW plug at the end. lol

PsychoLord13
PsychoLord13

Well some people speculate that being anonymous on the internet would make people and therefore groups of people act differently. This essentially proves that false. Now I wonder if this opens any new doors to using MMOs as approximations of groups of people that would make certian kinds of social research easier to perform.

Zcrimson07
Zcrimson07

@ elfstrum Do you not realize that this is what ALL universities do? they do studies, and research things. maybe the results are boring like this but what if they'd discovered that people who play become psychotic? then you would be praising it. btw how much do you think someones tuition is going to be lowered by cutting out a study? $5? $25? $100?

Jonesy914
Jonesy914

So after 3 years of study, they found out that the players act the same as people in normal life. 3 years well spent i must say.

Elfstrum
Elfstrum

Good to know my state university (MN) is spending money on studies like this instead of lowering tuition. Bad Move U of M

lostn
lostn

"A common misconception - WoW does not have 11.5 million ACTIVE subscribers. Lich King sold about 4 million in the first week(end?) no where near 11.5 million, and I don't think the other 7.5 million would come over the next month to upgrade." Yes they do have 11.5 million ACTIVE subscribers. Not all of them purchased Lich King. They are still paying to play classic WoW or BC however. To blizzard it doesn't matter. Lich King doesn't generate new subscription income, only retail income. If they are buying LK, they must have WoW and BC already, which means they are already paying $15 per month.

Kevu
Kevu

@ atopp399 I've played both as well, and I think that would be a hilarious study. If they looked at a more PvP-Heavy MMOG, would they still consider that "to accurately mimic traditional communities"? Just wonderin.

atopp399
atopp399

I would like to see a study done on the maturity level of the typical EQ2 player vs WoW player.

I have played both but will keep my comments to myself

Beetroot502
Beetroot502

A common misconception - WoW does not have 11.5 million ACTIVE subscribers. Lich King sold about 4 million in the first week(end?) no where near 11.5 million, and I don't think the other 7.5 million would come over the next month to upgrade. They count their subscribers by people who have at least at one time subscribed by paying 1 month in full. They do not take into consideration people that have multiple accounts, sharing accounts, etc. If you look at real server statistics, the figures are below 5 million, which is still a record breaker though.

PandaBear86
PandaBear86

I hope Aion gets market share from WoW. The PvPvE in that game looks extremely interesting, along with the airborne combat (you play an elf with wings), and it looks very good. WoW is nothing but grind all day looking for loot.

MarioMainic
MarioMainic

I have nothing to say im nuetral ok guys

Megaship
Megaship

I will never understand why WoW has 11.5 million and other famous awesome MMO's have less than a million still.

Armaan8014
Armaan8014

@threedown 26 hrs a week is only about 4 hrs per day.. Thats not that much

gameking5000
gameking5000

How can they draw a conclusion on just 1 game?

pyroone
pyroone

Sounds like a bunch of EQ players who also happen to be researchers found a way to scam some grant money. I'm going to apply for funding about socio-behavior in bars. My results should be as indepth as what was presented in this article.

Karrotjuce
Karrotjuce

sigh... i like games and all, but sometimes people just play them too much.

Sweetwater94
Sweetwater94

yeah those mmos never really appealed to me, what a waste of time......

Inconnux
Inconnux

Threedown - EQ2 is quite a mature game at this point and those 300000 people are hardcore. My wife plays it and 26 hrs/week sounds about right. A good reason why EQ2 was a better choice over WoW is that EQ2 is a far more complex game and the more variables in a test like this the better.

wudarbassist83
wudarbassist83

@ threedown I used to play around 40-60 hours of WoW when i played. It was addicting pre-BC

mAD_ADaption
mAD_ADaption

Someone should study the underground portion of XBL and tell us how accurately that mimics real life :/

Hekynn
Hekynn

So what you stupid studys! It helps players to get the stress out from a good days of work :)

stangen
stangen

gotta love the shameless plug for big advertiser WoW at the end...lol

umbrae
umbrae

thizzin831 "how come they didnt use this test on world of warcraft? wouldnt that be a testing ground?" Because Blizzard doesn't spy on you as much as Sony does. I would never play an Sony Online game. They allowed researcher access to server logs and clickstream. Major ethical issue there: called a wiretap.

threedown
threedown

an average of 26 hours a week? maybe im getting old, but that sounds like alot of hours to be playing one game on per week... every week, man that just seems crazy to me

Flatline304
Flatline304

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

thizzin831
thizzin831

how come they didnt use this test on world of warcraft? wouldnt that be a testing ground?

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

an average of about four hours a day is extreme. too much for me to spend on one game. although for multiple games not so bad

SteveTwo
SteveTwo

Flash! Groups of people act like groups of people! This is kinda a lame-duck news story. There are a few high profile groups that already do this to greater effect in WoW.

mdk1985
mdk1985

News tomorrow...the sun is hot and lots of people like pie.

Pimplando5484
Pimplando5484

Study finds that people play videogames, and the world keeps turning...

k0r3aN_pR1d3
k0r3aN_pR1d3

Well... You got scammers, pedophiles, weirdo's, 12 year old kids, and snobs in both real life and most MMORPG's....

gideonkain
gideonkain

This study would have been more profound with some....results. What did they prove/disprove? The only statistic offered is average game play per week. I think an in depth study of a Guild would have been more fruitful, just watching random players is like watching strangers in the city - it's not a clearly defined community, theirs no control so there is no experiment. If they had studied a guild they could have told us what stresses\rewards are prominent among leaders, officers, and guild mates

Ninja_Kinshu
Ninja_Kinshu

more then 300k people play eq2? Thats a lot more then I thought...

Targzissian
Targzissian

So do all activities in online games have analogs in real-world communities? Seems to me that there are limits to the relevance of such studies. They are likely to find out a lot about how people act in online games, but only a few general principles that can be extrapolated to the real world.

GrimGravy
GrimGravy

god just seeing pictures of this game makes me want to puke

sidewinder4534
sidewinder4534

It probably mimics real life communities because the game is made up of people from real life communities. Just saying.

Mystoksor
Mystoksor

interesting, but in the end, it's just humans behind the characters. so why exactly would MMO communities NOT function like a regular one?

yaba
yaba

26 hours a week? Wow I am glad my ADD prevents me from becoming addicted to MMORPGs.

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

2 things 1. did they only look at everquest players? 2. i guess i could be true, could is the key word though.

enix165
enix165

So...they spent three years snooping on people playing Everquest 2? Uhhh...okay...?*coughSTALKERS!cough*

enix165
enix165

So...they spent three years snooping on people playing Everquest 2? Uhhh...okay...?*coughSTALKERS!cough*

Magrino
Magrino

Understanding how the mind of a massively multiplayer online gamer works could be considered by some as the first step down the perilous road of insanity. Be that as it may, a variety of researchers have been drawn to the socio-behavioral impacts of MMOGs over the years, and the latest group to do so hails from a number of top universities in the US.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Southern California have teamed to take a look at Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest II in an effort to better understand social dynamics in real-world societies. As reported by the University of Minnesota's MN Daily, the results of the research show that online populaces have become large enough to accurately mimic traditional communities.

To arrive upon that finding, researchers collected data over a period of three years, analyzing users' server logs and click streams to track all actions performed by players in EQII. Due to the wide variety of tasks that players undertake, the research team found that they were able to use the game as an accurate proxy for studying human behavior.

The study notes that more than 300,000 players subscribe to EQII, spending on average 26 hours per week on Norrath's shores. That subscription figure, of course, represents a small fraction of World of Warcraft's 11.5-million-strong army, but who's counting?