A few weeks ago the WSJ printed an article asking if getting married in second life was cheating on your real wife. The article mentions:
Nearly 40% of men and 53% of women who play online games said their virtual friends were equal to or better than their real-life friends, according to a survey of 30,000 gamers conducted by Nick Yee, a recent Ph.D. graduate from Stanford University.
Those are pretty fascinating results. I grabbed a copy of the 53 page paper, titled, The Demographics, Motivations, and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively Multi-User Online Graphical Environments, from Nick Yee’s website to see what else he found.
Some of the Yee’s findings echo popular wisdom; MMORPG players are overwhelmingly male (86%) and 50% of them are between 19 and 32 years old. Male players tended to be younger (average 25) then female players (average 32), with only 7% of players younger than 22 being female. Yee attributes this to the fact that 27% of female gamers were introduced to the game by their significant others – in fact fully 60% of female gamers played with their significant other.
More interesting is the addition research on the emotional intensity that gamers are experiencing. More than a quarter of gamers said the emotional highlight of the past week occurred in game! In addition, around a third said that their most annoying or infuriating experience over the last week occurred in an MMORPG. Interestingly, these ratios declined little for older players versus younger players.
Another indicator of how meaningful “in game” relationships and are is that 23% of male players and 32% of female players had told secrets to MMORPG friends that they have NEVER TOLD their real-life friends. This may partly be a function of “anonymity”, but is also a function of the 40-53% of players who felt that their “in game” friendships were as good or better than their real life friendships, as the WSJ notes above.
Yee also has some interesting findings on player motivations; why gamers play MMORGPs, that I’ll cover in a later post.