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Psychological Study Helps to Dispel Gaming Sterotypes

Updated Fri, Mar 22, 2013 by Mem

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If you enjoy World of Warcraft, or any MMO for that matter, you have probably at one time or another found yourself the brunt of a joke or two. You know what I'm talking about the standard wisecracks about how you live in your Mom's basement or living solely on a diet of hot pockets and mountain dew. Yeah...we've all been there. However, a new study could help to dispel those stereotypes or at the very least help you feel better about revealing in your WoW geekdom.


World of Warcraft Psychological Study

The study in question was conducted by Lindsay Graham, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, and Dr. Samuel Gosling, a professor of psychology at the same school. The study takes a look at why people feel the need to play video games, particularly ones like World of Warcraft that have a strong virtual reality component. The study took 1,413 participants, average aged 26, who played on average 24 hours a week and had played the game for at least 20 months and asked them a series of questions. The results were published in the March 2013 issue of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking and were quite surprising, at least for those who desperately cling to the typical gamer stereotypes.


We Aren't All Crazy...Promise

As you are probably aware, WoW players take part in the game for a variety of reasons. Some of us play to socialize, while others play for the sense of achievement one can get from the game. The study ultimately examines the relationship between gamers' Big Five personality traits and their motivations for playing World of Warcraft. Looking at the results from the study it is revealed that there may be several links between a player's personality and gaming motivations.


South Park WoW


One big revelation found in the study is that apparently players who play World of Warcraft for socialization purposes tend to be high on extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticisim, and openness. On the other hand players that go for the sense of achievement are high on extraversion and neuroticism, but unlike those social butterflies before are low on agreeableness and concientiousness. Now don't panic if you are one of these types of players and are now wondering if you are indeed neurotic.


Neuroctic used in this context is simply one of Big Five personality dimensions we mentioned before. People that score high on the scale of neuroticisim are less emotionally stable, have higher anxiety, and can get angry more quickly. This does not mean you are insane so rest easy and don't call up the men in the white coats just yet. We are all some level of neurotic when using it in this sense, it just depends where on the scale you fall.


Not surprisingly those that seek out leadership roles in World of Warcraft rate high on the extraverted, openness, and conscientious scales. They also tend to be (as would be expected) highly organized, enjoying planning, and are pretty low on the neuroticism scale.


WoW


Other Factors Remain

While the study gives us an excellent glimpse into why we as gamers tend to gravitate towards games like World of Warcraft, personality is only one of many factors that play a role in why we do things in game. A lot of outside influences also need to be factored in. For example how much we enjoy jumping so we can do that crazy spin as a Blood Elf or how much we love mindlessly slaughtering critters.


Conclusions

The study is pretty interesting and certainly sheds some light on the players involved in games like World of Warcraft. Studies like these are the first step in getting the general populace to acknowledge the fact that gamers are no different than anyone else and most certainly not all hermits with no social skills. With that being said, the test group was relatively small and being such can hardly come close to represent the enormous WoW population. Therefore this and any study that relies on a small group of people to make grand assumptions should probably be taken with a grain of salt.


How do you feel about this study? Do you think it will help dispel some of the stereotypes directed at gamers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

I think this study is basically useless and really should not have been publicized mainly due to the inherent fact that they basically stereotyped WOW players by using one age group. Making the assumption that this age group makes up the majority of WOW players. While alot of players are in their mid-twenties, there are also alot of players that, like myself, are alot older with more life experiences (I'm a grandmother and have been in the work force for over 20 years) and while I enjoy social interaction and assisting my guild mates and on occasion other players, I play WOW because I enjoy the game, the content (graphics, story line, the continuing evolution of the game) and it enables me to work through some issues I have in real life.
I think this grad student would have been better served to open the reference group to all ages. I personally am insulted that the grad student and co-author thought that they had captured the essence of the typical MMO WOW player.
Having said that, I have to agree with this author's conclusion that it is a first step to the erasing the common misconception / impression of what types of people play MMOs.

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