« Calling Out Numbers | Main | Lineage Suit »

May 20, 2004



Fascinating study, though I do wonder about this part:

In very broad strokes, female players are more drawn to relationship-oriented activities while male players are more drawn to achievement-oriented activities ... In particular, goal-oriented users may be more likely to treat avatars as tools/pawns to achieve goals, thereby encouraging a preference for 3PP that objectifies and externalizes the avatar, whereas relationship-oriented users may be more likely to treat avatars as representations of themselves in a social environment, thereby encouraging identification and treating the avatar as the self through 1PP.

Am I looking at the data wrong, or is this reversed? It seems to me that women prefer 3rd person (52.5% from your data). So the broad-brush summary that women prefer relationship-oriented exercises would suggest that 3rd person perspective is the best way to do that.

This implies that achievement-focused activities are preferrably done in the 1pp. Looking at the data breakdown shows men and younger gamers fairly clearly preferring 1pp. Therefore, the implication appears to be supported in the data, and in the broad-brush summary of male, and younger gamers in general, as primarily in the achiever camp.

After all, what better way could there be to treat the avatar as a 'pawn', as an inanimate means to an achievement for the self, than to never see it on screen?

Perhaps this is just my misunderstanding of the data, colored with my own anecdotal evidence. But I also find that the more socially-oriented players tend to refer to their avatars in the third person -- Which seems wholly compatible with a preference to see them in the third person.


Your looking at the data wrong.


Graham> Your looking at the data wrong.

Gah. silly iconography. Can't we just get a good ole color bargraph?


I'm with ya on that one, Weasel. I have to analyze the graphs to understand the analysis of the data.

One question, though. Ignoring gender and age, what is the overall preference of those polled? i.e. What percentage of the respondents prefer 1pp vs. 3pp? I'm curious how the individual effects of gender and age map onto the larger picture.

Also, Nick, would you mind providing the number of respondents for each age range (as you did with the first graph, detailing N male and N female)?

In the absence of that information, one of my visceral responses was: According to the first graph, most male players prefer 3pp and the majority of those polled were male. So why was 3pp apparently under-represented in the age graph? (I know there's no way to tell without the numbers, that was just my visceral response from the pretty pictures.)




Could this explain some of TSO's troubles? A highly-social world where everything is seen objectively.

The Sims itself shares the same perspective, but in single-player sims players are playing 'dollhouse' controlling multiple dolls. Does this change the experience so significantly? In TSO they play only one and are asked to form relationships through it; a situation where the perspective (3pp) of the game runs counter to the mechanic (1pp) chosen by those more eager to build relationships.

Does this make sense?



Also compare to http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/archives/000431.php

That's the "I think of my avatars as idealized versions of myself" question (Finding that women are more likely than men to do that, and young (men especially) are more likely than old to do that).


Alan -

Overall Preference:
1PP: 34.7%
3PP: 49.3%
Prefer Both Equally: 15.5%

Age Group N's:
12-17: 154
18-22: 517
23-28: 600
29-35: 554
>35: 374

And just noticed that the Age graph was mislabeled. 3PP was switched with 1PP. The correct graph has just been added. Thanks for pointing this out.

DivineShadow -

I think that's an interesting idea. Perhaps a mismatch of motivations and perspective creates dissonance on some level.


Thanks Nick!


It would be interesting to know the frequency (if at all) folks switched from 3PP to 1PP. I would speculate "low-switchers" have stronger underlying (deep) motivation ("avatar fixation") versus tactical opportunism/convenience (darn, my eyes failing me).


so I have three basic comments...

1- women tend to be more susceptible to motion sickness, and that happens more in 1st person.

2- I know hardly any women who prefer 1st person, and lots who pay overhead view games

3- speaking as a socializing type myself, I tend to prefer 3rd person for it because 1st limits peripheral vision too much, and I need to see who is around me talking (cf There's wonderful conversation camera).

I guess I am saying that this doesn't accord with my experience at all. :) I fully expected the data to show the exact opposite.


While I like the way it sounds, pawns and 3rd person vs. 1st person and interaction, I must agree with the previous poster. For all I really know, women playing 1st person games is a myth circulating around the internet... I haven't met a single one.


Some food for Raph:

1- how prevalent is motion sickness? I'd assume low, but we learn things all the time.

2- this just demonstrates that there is another, more primary, reason why women play those games (i.e. genre).

3- I'd say that, among socializers, you might be an "achiever". In other words, it is important to use your social time towards some goal, while other social types would rather just passively gab face-to-face.

Either that, or you have an omniscience complex.


One thing I'd look into is perspective preference vs. gaming experience. Perhaps a 1st person view feels more natural to beginner gamers, which might help explain the gender difference (based on the assumption that the gender gap increases as gaming experience increases).


What Raph said.

3- I'd say that, among socializers, you might be an "achiever".

You are CRAZY.


Does gender correlate with age in your respondents? If the females were older than the male gamers, we could be looking at one variable here, not two.


Thief, the 'first person sneaker' game written by Looking Glass, has a very substantial fan community. Ion has a new version of Thief scheduled for release later this month, and early rumors were that the publisher had shifted the pov to 3rd person. This totally outraged everyone, because in that community anyway 1st person is considered critical to attaining the proper degree of immersiveness.


Fred's comment got me thinking about the immersive nature of the games I've played and I realized something. The last time I truly felt "immersed" in a game was after playing Dark Forces (the precursor to Jedi Knight). After one particular medium-length session (say 2-3 hours or so) of poking around a bombed-out city, when I stopped playing I had visions of me diving over a couch so I could peek over and start shooting at the Stormtroopers. Since then, I have yet to encounter another game that has suggested such an immersive nature or association. (And I have played and do own both Jedi Knight and Jedi Knight II so I don't think it's a Star Wars related phenomena for myself.)

Most of that comes from the 3rd person perspective. I agree with Raph in that I prefer 3pp for the added peripheral vision. In a social setting, that can be crucial. -- How else will I see who I'm talking to unless I turn to look at them? In a gameplay setting, it is somewhat destructive of the immersive nature of the game (even though it does provide a logistical benefit).

Of course, if a designer were to ask me which I prefer, I would probably say 3pp almost purely for the increased vision, nevermind the extra distance from my character that this inherently inserts into the equation.


I also found Nick's results surprising but soon realized that I was making the error of strongly identifying first person perspective with first person shooters and then applying gender preferences from FPS' to the first person v. 3rd person perspective. What makes the survey so interesting is its focus on 3 MMORPGs rather than multiple genres.

So, now that my surprise is gone, I have a couple of follow on questions for people more familiar with those games than I:

1) What player capabilities change as you switch between 1PP and 3PP and do they map onto the achiever versus socializer split? For example, in SL, building and interacting with objects is easier in 3rd person, while shooting or moving in tight areas is easier in 1st person.

2) In the three games mentioned, is rate of progression in different classes linked to choice of perspective and, if so, do these differences and class type map onto the split? Do bounty hunters need to stay in 1st person while dancers user 3rd person?


I'm wondering what the dichotomy between 1st and 3rd-person perspective means in the context of Star Wars Galaxies. In SWG you can zoom and pan. You can play in true 1st person mode in which you cannot see your avatar at all but can look around freely. You can then zoom out a little so that you just see the back of your avatar's head or a little more and you can see the head and torso. You can then zoom all the way out to bird's eye view. But the whole time you zoom out, your right and left sides still correspond with your avatar's right and left, so it still handles a bit like 1st person perspective. Then there is panning. Once you zoom out a bit, you can pan the "camera" 360 degrees around your avatar. To me this is true 3rd person perspective because you lose the right-left correspondence with your avatar and the experience feels more like watching a movie. So for me, the 1st vs. 3rd-person perspective dichotomy is not fine-grained enough for SWG.

In addition, I use several of these perspectives all the time based on the activities I'm engaged in. I use true first person when I'm walking through cities or buildings. I find it easier to control because I can manipulate my direction more precisely than in other views (I guess this is called "mouselook") and can strafe in navigating corners. However, once I start talking with another player, I zoom out until I can see most of my avatar and pan slightly so I can clearly see the other avatar's face and body. This enables me to see both avatars' gestures better. In true 1st person, I never really know what my avatar is doing in terms of gestures. Finally, when traveling through the wilderness, especially on a speeder, or when engaging in combat outdoors with groups of MOBs, I zoom out even further and use bird's eye view. This better enables me to see what's coming at me. So the point is that I think certain perspectives are better suited for certain activities and situations. I would be shocked if SWG players used only one perspective all the time.


CherryBomb -

Yes, age does correlate with gender. Female players are more prevalent among older players, but the age pattern remains the same even if the female respondents are excluded from the analysis.

1PP -vs- 3PP (N = 1868, only male respondents)
12-17: 23.5% -vs- 57.9%
18-22: 25.8% -vs- 58.8%
23-28: 24.7% -vs- 57.1%
29-35: 34.5% -vs- 49.7%
>35: 49.4% -vs- 34.3%

Some other thoughts:

1) It's interesting that most users had a clear preference, rather than clustering on the "prefer both equally" response option.

2) While it might be argued that the default game setting is the most influential factor, data from each game shows the basic gender difference in the same direction, and the default perspective changes between these games (EQ, DAOC, SWG)

3) I think Cory's point is important - that we're assuming that 1PP takes on all the mentalities of 1PP in FPS (or other non-MMORPG genres), whereas 1PP in MMORPGs might mean something very different.

4) I think we're focusing too much on the gender/age level, while I think what's really interesting is that it appears the gender/age differences are being driven by motivational differences. In other words, whether someone prefers to "relate" in MMORPGs is a BETTER predictor of their choice of perspective than their gender.


Another possibility is that preference in perspective is influenced by a player's "primary" activity while playing rather than their motivation for playing. This ties in to yet another influencing factor which is the game mechanics themselves.

Having played all three games, I would personally have difficulty answering the question because it would be different for all three. EQ I play almost exclusively in 1PP, DAoC almost exclusively in 3PP, and SWG I switch back and forth much as described in a comment above. And there are a lot of factors behind each of those preferences, beyond just being an old male low-achiever low-relater. Off the top of my head, a few of those factors include: which perspective provides for the best control of my avatar in a given game; how important is precise control of my avatar; how important is peripheral vision and extended situational awareness; how interesting or important it is to look at my own avatar; and how difficult it is to simultaneously manage control of movement, targeting, combat/action and the camera in the given game/perspective combination.

Nick, nice work on the survey. You've uncovered some interesting statistics but I think you vastly oversimplified the analysis of the reasons behind those statistics. :)


SWG is now running a poll on its forums to gather more stats on the SWG users. It's asking just gender and camera preference since motivation is so subjective...


Asking just gender and camera preference should work for a single VW analysis(utility functions are imbedded in the world).

However, I like Nick's thoughts on motivations for cross-sectional analysis.

For example, if a game have radar or mini-map that allow me to see what's around me, then I may prefer 1PP. But if I'm frequently jumped by creatures just beyond the radar, then I may prefer 3PP just to get an extra few milliseconds of response time.

The comments so far indicates that motivations are not constant across time and situations.

So, the change in motivation across time for different gender, age, or personality categories may be an interesting research topic.



>> Yes, age does correlate with gender. Female
>> players are more prevalent among older
>> players, but the age pattern remains the same
>> even if the female respondents are excluded
>> from the analysis.

I think that misses the point. If older players are more likely to prefer 1st person and if most of the female persons in this survey were older, then you'd find "females are more likely to prefer 1st person".

Excluding females from the results doesn't answer the question.


Jeff -

Ah ok. Here's the crosstab of gender x age x preference for the 1PP case:

Male (1868) -vs- Female (328)
12-17: 23.4% -vs- 37.5%
18-22: 25.8% -vs- 48.8%
23-28: 24.7% -vs- 56.0%
29-35: 34.5% -vs- 60.5%
>35: 49.4% -vs- 61.5%

So the gender difference is not being driven by the age pattern. In every age group, female players prefer 1PP more than the male players. Both gender and age are independently affecting preference.


I think you should have added gender-play to this 1PP and 3PP poll. I'd would have like to see the results. I think that 3PP might have a higher incidence of gender-play due to the externalization and disconnection with the avatar, while 1PP, with it's closer connection, would probably have more people playing as their own sex. I've been known to alternate between male and female characters, and usually when I choose a female character, it's mainly for looks, not an idealization representation of myself.


Raw data excites me. Thanks


Alan Stern: After one particular medium-length session (say 2-3 hours or so) of poking around a bombed-out city, when I stopped playing I had visions of me diving over a couch so I could peek over and start shooting at the Stormtroopers.

Somewhat OT, I've found that immersion has less to do with 1pp vs 3pp and more to do with how strongly designers make the affordances of in-game objects. Examples are playing Jet Set Radio and seeing rails in RL and thinking, "I can grind on that!" or playing Splinter Cell and thinking "I should shoot that out..." when seeing motion sensors or security cameras. These objects are so strongly represented as being gameplay-related that you begin to notice them in RL, too.

Regarding Bob Moore's comment on using the perspective that suits the activity (and again OT), the new Splinter Cell's multiplayer mode raises some interesting points. 3pp spies have a more open view, yet obviously none of the avatar-related gestures or attachment given their character design. By comparison the 1pp mercs feel claustrophobic and slow. Consider the difference perspective makes when you're in close quarters and the spy manages to get behind the merc and put him in a choke hold.


So, among those that are 50% male, approximately 40% will prefer 1st person? (aka I don't think there should be lines among the points in your first graph)


Fascinating but has 'game history', television, 'cool' and 'blame' been taken into account?
1. Game history
If you have a huge population of people brought up on the 3pp 'detached view' which I think games for older consoles and kids games were, in general, then its perfectly reasonable to assume that that is the style they are going to adopt, on average. Its the old 'WordStar is better than Microsoft Word argument' or a better example would be the web browser wars. So because it was the first perspective used, ergo its the perspective adopted.
2. Television
All television is in 3rd person. You have to identify with the character on the screen so naturally its the view you expect from a screen.
3. Cool
Well what can I say, a lot of people are wow'ed by the 'cool' moves the character can perform for them at the single click of a button against the bad guys, their own puppet in fact.
4. Blame.
If something goes wrong the blame is on the puppet and not the player, an important part of the disassociation of violence. Which MIGHT be having consequences in today’s young population.
All these factors are probably involved to a greater or lesser degree. Ifyou could adjust for these factors then the outcome might actually favor 1pp because that is what we experience in real life.....

I for one do not like the 3pp view. Its to detached. I like being in the world I'm 'playing in'. I like the fact that stuff can happen behind me but then my style of game play is slow and careful rather than rush in headlong without thought and slash around, where the all around view would be a help....

The comments to this entry are closed.