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Virtual worlds; real emotions August 30, 2007

Posted by jeremyliew in game mechanics, gaming, mmorpg, virtual worlds.

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.


1. Daniel Markham - August 30, 2007

As a entrepreneur and technologist who has done some work in this area, I’m really surprised that user emotional involvement is not playing a bigger role in start-ups. Everybody has an idea that they believe people are going to “like”, but aside from that general prediction, I don’t see a lot of work being done to get inside the web user’s head. These powerful emotions being experienced by MMORPG users beat branding and clanning all to heck. It’s a shame there’s not more work being done out there — or perhaps I just haven’t seen it yet.

2. rashmi - August 30, 2007

You might also find this paper “Alone together” about social/psychological dimensions of online games interesting. http://www.parc.xerox.com/research/publications/details.php?id=5599

3. Why do gamers game? « Lightspeed Venture Partners Blog - September 4, 2007

[…] 4, 2007 Posted by jeremyliew in game mechanics, gaming, mmorpg. trackback In a post about how virtual worlds can engender real emotions, I mentioned Nick Yee’s paper The Demographics, Motivations, and Derived Experiences of Users […]

4. “Alone together” in MMOGs « Lightspeed Venture Partners Blog - September 10, 2007

[…] virtual worlds, social media, social networks, gaming. trackback A commenter on my post about virtual worlds eliciting real emotions pointed me to another great paper on which Nick Yee was a co-author, “Alone Together?” […]

5. Virtual worlds, real economics « Lightspeed Venture Partners Blog - September 11, 2007

[…] in virtual worlds, gaming, mmorpg, economics. trackback A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how virtual worlds can generate very real emotions. Alex Tabarrok’s blog Marginal Revolution, notes a post from EVE’s (the space based […]

6. Second Life - January 14, 2008

[…] studii si sondaje din care reiese faptul ca toti participantii la astfel de jocuri virtuale percep viata lor acolo ca […]

7. Jogos - January 22, 2008

woa, definitely worth looking into.

8. Cheap WoW Gold - February 10, 2009

Maybe it’s somewhat comfortable to say stuffs knowing that the other person can’t see you. Anyway, I have indeed met friends through online games and they are really worth keeping.

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