[MUD-Dev] Codename Blue & Facets - Nick Yee's new studies
Wed Apr 24 21:11:56 New Zealand Standard Time 2002
Nick Yee, who authored the "Norrathian Scrolls" psychological study
of EQ players, has completed the first phase of a new study,
comparing the playerbases of EverQuest, Ultima Online, and Dark Age
of Camelot. He's also done a factor analysis of motivations for
playing online games.
<EdNote: Mirrored in the normal place on Kanga.Nu>
Both papers are fascinating, but there were a few results in
particular that I thought I should call out for discussion.
- The "Explorer" Bartle's type does not appear to exist.
Yee used an extended questionnaire, and used factor analysis to
find high degrees of correlation. The five primary motivations
(not "player types" since a given player can of course have more
than one motivation) were:
Relationship (eg, building and maintaining them)
Immersion (eg, becoming immersed in a fictional construct)
Grief (eg, desire to advance one's own agenda, even at the
expense of others)
Achievement (eg, desire to become powerful within the virtual
Leadership (eg gregariousness or assertiveness of the player)
Socializer, Killer, and Achiever seem well represented. Those who
have argued that Roleplayer is a distinct motivation appear to
have been proven correct. Leadership can almost be termed
"Cooperation" because it's a central factor.
And Explorer, even when he "tilted" possible questions towards
looking for it, failed to materialize as a common factor. This may
account for the disproportionately high amount of Explorers we see
in surveys such as the Bartle Quotient
(http://www.andreasen.org/bartle), which runs contrary to
Richard's own expectation.
- The most immersive game is the least addictive game
This one goes out to John Buehler. When EQ, UO, and DAoC are
correlated against these player motivations, UO came out ahead in
immersion, the "most immersive" game. It was also the least
addictive, showing the lowest hours played per week and the lowest
correlation to "addictive" statements.
Most specifically, the number one reason why online games turn out
to be addictive, according to Yee's study, is NOT "Skinner box"
achievement ladders. It's other people. "Addictive" behavior is
strongly correlated with the Relationship motivation. As it
happens, since the Relationship motivation happens to be more
common among females, the common image of the mud-addicted 18 year
old guy is completely wrong. The most likely to be addicted is the
older female player who's there because her friends are there. In
fact, the majority of women playing are playing with their
Another thing worth observing is that despite the lower
"addiction" factor and the lower hours played per week, UO was
still just about evenly matched with EverQuest in terms of likely
retention and satisfaction. And on average, both EQ and UO had
pretty close levels of Relationship factor overall across their
playerbase. In other words, the least addictive and most immersive
game, was equally competitive in terms of relationship-building
and in terms of retention.
Side note--women tend to be "stickier" because of this.
- Corollary: cooperation is not as critical in these games as
commonly thought. Neither is the Skinner box.
The stickiest factor is Relationship, NOT Leadership (which as I
mentioned, has a lot of "cooperation" involved in it). Both EQ and
DAoC score higher on the Leadership factor, because UO doesn't
offer plane raids or relic raids. And DAoC, which shows evidence
in the study of having the poorest likely retention, is actually
the top game for Achievement.
Lesson for us developers: Build relationships. Not teams, and not
- A couple of other minor notes:
The older the player, the more likely to be friendly they are. The
more likely to want to be known as a nice person. The less likely
to want to play a "rogue." The less likely to want to play "evil"
or "mysterious." In other words, mature people tend to play
nicer. And women tend to be more mature than men too. But it's not
14 year old boys who are the problem. It's 22 year old men. :)
Women don't like PvP as much. They want to be healers far more
often. They value being considered friendly much more than
men. This obviously relateds back to the Relationship factor. They
also tend to be older than the men playing, on average. A lot of
them are moms. Most of them are playing with family (romantic
partner, siblings, children, parents).
There's also a bunch of data regarding how players view upcoming
games, and likely retention of the current games. But I'll let
people go find those for themselves, as I'd rather not comment on
the prospects for either my own project nor that of fellow
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