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Dec 11, 2009



I wish this information was available when I was taking Sociology of Sex & Gender, it would've made an interesting topic for my final presentation! Either way, interesting information!


As I said last time, it would be useful if you could find out something about the people who didn't take your survey, in order to give a sense of how well those who did take it match the overall player base. For example, it may be that people with one sexuality may find a "Greatstaff of the Sun Serpent" a cool reward whereas those of another find it off-putting.

Given that you can't re-run the experiment with a range of rewards, the next-best thing would be to grab a bunch of EQ2 players at random and ask for their direct participation. Even if they refuse, that at least gives you some sense of how big the holes in your data are. If they agree, you can assess how well their responses correlate with the ones you got from your much larger survey.

On a different point, just because some group plays for longer than another, that doesn't mean it's more "hard core". It just means they play for longer. If I eat twice as much as you but take half as long to do so, that makes me the hard-core glutton, not you.

Finally, do you have any data about families outside of the MMO? I'd particularly like to know if the players have children, and, if so, what kind of age ranges they're in. This is because children can often mean interruptions, which is not conducive to a 4-hour raiding session. Is one gender more likely to continue playing heavily if there are children around? Or do they just change the time of day at which they play?

Yes, sorry, I know ... sooooo many questions!



The sample is pretty good, actually. It was the vast majority of those who logged in during the time window of 2 days. Due to NDA, I can't give the % because I am not allowed to disclose server loads, which you could bootstrap from the answer.

What's the difference between those who took the survey and those who didn't? Well, shoot, I would have to survey those who didn't to know.

A random sample has the same issue. You won't have a 100% response rate either. The solution is to have census-level baseline data, but that requires, err, a survey.

On the hard-core bit, I'll spell out the intensity of play by in-game activities vs. raw time in a forthcoming paper on gender swappers. For that we computed the kills/hour along with some other behavioral metrics to go along with time. They turn out to be consistent with the story above. Anyway, I would agree that time is not a perfect indicator of being hard-core, but I would suspect it is highly correlated.

We do have data on families outside. Were you asking about the rate of children compared to playing time, i.e. trying to relate the hard-core-ness to kids (or lack thereof)? If you can spell that out a bit more, I can run it and post the result here.


Dmitri>The sample is pretty good, actually. It was the vast majority of those who logged in during the time window of 2 days.

OK, well in that case my objection disappears. With a "vast majority" kind of number, it's going to overwhelm the minority that didn't participate.

>Well, shoot, I would have to survey those who didn't to know.

Yes, you would; looks as if you don't have to though.

>we computed the kills/hour along with some other behavioral metrics to go along with time. They turn out to be consistent with the story above.

This makes your claim much more solid - and much more useful, too. I look forward to the paper on the subject (as indeed I look forward to all these papers you're producing).

>We do have data on families outside. Were you asking about the rate of children compared to playing time, i.e. trying to relate the hard-core-ness to kids (or lack thereof)?

Yes. Basically I was wondering if there is a correlation between playing time, ages of children and gender.

For example, going by stereotypes you might expect that women do most of the childcare, therefore women with children would have to play either less than or at different times to women without children. It may be that at least one child has to fall within a certain range for there to be an effect.

I ask because I can see as a potential future tactic from anti-MMO people the suggestion that playing MMOs turns mothers into bad parents. It would be useful to know if this is true or not.

Thanks again for all this work, and to SOE for providing the data - it's superb quality.



I can't figure out how to post an image here, so here's a link to the thing you were curious about:

Love to hear your thoughts. One thing I notice is women playing more than their male counterparts, regardless of the number of children. I also added a column for what I'd call heavy duty players, or those who play over 40 hours per week. Women dominate that also, again even if they have the same number of children as men.


Dmitri>here's a link to the thing you were curious about

Thanks very much indeed for this - those figures are not at all in line with what I was expecting! It appears that having no children at all means you're likely to play for less time than if you do have children; I was expecting the presence of children to cut down usage, not increase it, with more children cutting it down further. It looks, though, as if having children gives women an extra 3 hours a week to spend in EQ2 and men maybe an hour and a half (but the numbers aren't as consistent). I wonder if this is because people with children have more of a routine than people without? I wouldn't have thought it was because they had more free time (although if they're home-makers then they perhaps might during the day).

A point that did jump out at me is that for women, the number who play when they have their first child is about a third of the number who have no children; for men, it's about a fifth. There could be many explanations for this (men burn out more; women come to MMOs later; having children has a bigger impact on men than on women; women account for the future impact of having children when they decide whether to play or not; more of the women with children are newbies than are the men with children; etc.). It's a definite weirdness, anyway.

(Substitute the correct technical term for the word "weirdness" there).

The 40-hour intensive users are broadly in line with the rest. It's interesting to note that there's a dip with both genders for 2 children; maybe 2 are more of a handful than 1, but if you have 3 or more then the elder child helps out? Or maybe it's just to do with age and the career stage? Yes, I am just speculating wildly.

With regard to the reason why I asked this question, the fact that women's usage goes up by more than 10% when they have children suggests either that they have more free time or that MMOs are a better fit for their free time than TV or whatever. The figures would have to have remained fairly constant for an accusation of bad parenting to stick. I certainly wasn't expecting them to rise, though!

Thanks for grinding the stats to get these tables for me. Interesting stuff!



The patterns might be a result of age more than having children, and it's just that those two things are correlated, so masking some of the impact. When we look at age and time played, it rises steadily across the lifespan with older age brackets consistently playing more hours than younger ones. You can see that pattern in the "Who Plays, How Much and Why?" paper:

My explanation/speculation for this is that older people have fewer social outlets than younger people, especially in Western nations where our lifestyles, commutes and suburban atomization tends to push us out of social institutions (see Putnam and Oldenburg for background) compared to younger people who live in denser, more connected areas and lifestyles--school being the biggest driver of social grouping. So, with fewer RL outlets as we age, but with the same amount of desire for social interaction, older players play more.

I wasn't sure what to make of the bump up in time with larger families. Either they get a lot better at time management and scheduling as you say, or perhaps having a lot of children speaks to a certain attitude that might also drive an excessive amount of playing time.


My CoX study supports these trends. I also found that females are the hardest core gamers (in terms of time invested weekly), especially when functioning as guild leaders (females somewhat more likely to take on and maintain such roles). Found it surprising, though I don't know why I would...


I would be interested to see data on how many players typically play as an avatar of a gender different than their physical sex, and how many of those reported gender identity confusion in their real life.
As a online game player born into a body that doesn't fit my mental gender, this intregues me.


I would like to see you measure MMO experience, e.g., "How long have you been playing EQ2 or other MMO's?" as an independent variable and see how that affects some of the other measures you took, across genders.

Anecdotally, the women I know go through an arc when they start to play. Most of them start as a couple, and play in a very couple-oriented style. But after a while, they gain more confidence and begin to behave more aggressively and to play classes/races that are more aggressive and/or masculine.

To be specific, it seems they often start out playing healers, switch to dps, and then sometimes try out tanking. They will solo more, too, after time.

This is, of course, just an impression I have. I'm interested in data.


Not sure if this is apparent anywhere else. But I'm seeing a lot more females play Valve Software's Left 4 Dead as compared to other first person shooters.

I'm hypothesizing that it is mainly because Left 4 Dead focuses heavily on mutual support between teammates as compared to earlier first person shooters like Quake and Counterstrike, which appeals to the social nature of females.

I'm interested to know if there is a similar phenomenon happening elsewhere?


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