From “The Only MMO is WoW” dept.:

Scene from a WoW raid

There’s probably worthwhile studies to be done on the MMORPG phenomenon. The games of the genre are designed to keep you interested and engaged for thousands of hours. The game itself is a potential setting for the formation of a long-lasting community that could extend far beyond the game realm. MMOs have provoked real life violence. Prisoners are rumored to have to play them to support repressive regimes by bilking money from Westerners.

More than near any other sort of video game, MMOs have gravitas in the real world and a transformative effect on their players.

What Gamers Want: Researchers Develop Tool To Predict Player Behavior” advertises itself as a study of how gamers play MMOs. With such a study, the authors claim, “we are able to predict what a player in a game will do based on his or her previous behavior, with up to 80 percent accuracy”.

Intriguing. What kind of person crafts, or plays the market, or focuses on PvP? Are some people likelier to become community leaders? Who likes the follower role — are these people the healers? There’s hundreds of questions that could be asked.

This study, however, doesn’t focus on the players at all, really. It focuses solely on achievement. Not in a general sense, either: it’s a study on how people earn achievement rewards in World of Warcraft.

From the press release: “Specifically, the researchers collected data on 14,000 players and the order in which they earned their achievement badges. The researchers then identified the degree to which each individual achievement was correlated to every other achievement.”

So, this study didn’t focus on actual player achievements, like leadership, community building, teamwork, life/game balance, or anything. It correlated the Blizzard-defined achievement rewards, conditions that Blizzard chose because it was something they could track and would help keep players in the game by giving them specific goals.

This paper doesn’t study MMO players. It studies Blizzard’s efforts to guide WoW players.

Compared to 2008’s study of EverQuest II players, where they used extensive logs that recorded every action players took in the game, this WoW achievement-focused study looks weak.

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7 thoughts on “From “The Only MMO is WoW” dept.:”

  1. That’s not a screenshot from World of Warcraft. Just sayin’

    And you’re right, it’s extremely shallow to “study” playstyle just from looking at achievements.

  2. Well, I didn’t have a recent WoW screenshot, and I figured I’d take my lead from the researchers trying to draw conclusions about MMO player behavior from a dump of some Armory data and just shine it on :)

  3. I wonder what they would make of me. I played WoW before it had achievements and when it came in I thought “not interested” and continued to play as before. I just imagine them looking at my extensive list of WoW achievements and thinking “this player decided to do this achievement and then went for that one next” when in fact the first I ever knew about any of them was a brief and quickly forgotten pop up.

  4. Wait. Achievements only went in with Wrath of the Lich King. So not only is it a study of something superficial, but to get real ordering, they must have had to throw out anybody who started before then. So this is a ranking of achievements for people who started playing WoW after WotLK.

    Plus, does this take into account the fact that people will just chase achievements for the sake of chasing achievements?

    Too silly.

  5. I’ve seen quite a few comments on this study around the interwebs today… some humorous, some satirical, some serious and analytical…

    Yours was by far the most astute, and on point, comment I’ve seen thus far. *bows reverentially* Your blog-fu is strong little one.

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