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Quantification of EQ Players 162

Posted by Hemos
from the grats dept.
Nick Yee writes: "As part of a psychology thesis project, I collected data from about 4000 individual EverQuest players who together filled out about 25,000 surveys that focused on many facets of personal and social dynamics in real-time 3D immersive virtual worlds, such as: gender differences, gender-bending, addiction, friendships, romantic relationships, people who play with romantic partners and so on. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. "
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Quantification of EQ Players

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  • Yeah (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tachys (445363)

    As part of a psychology thesis project

    Yeah sure we believe you.

    • Re:Yeah (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Metrollica (552191)
      "As part of a psychology thesis project, I collected data from about 4000 individual EverQuest players who together filled out about 25,000 surveys that focused on many facets of personal and social dynamics in real-time 3D immersive virtual worlds, such as: gender differences, gender-bending, addiction, friendships, romantic relationships, people who play with romantic partners and so on. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected."

      The person collected data from other people. Unless he was posing as those 4000 people and did enough playing to account for all of them then there is nothing wrong with using this as a psychology thesis.
    • No, there are some freaky experiments out there in the name of science! In the lab I work in, we had first year undergrads coming in to drool in vials; this year we're having guys run around in dirty shirts and have women smell them. There are sex labs/ alcohol labs/ love labs; some people with PhDs, and possibly way too much time on their hands, sit around watching castrated hamsters fighting! Behind every one of these is a bleery eyed, caffeinated graduate student with a few dozen plans and an advisor breathing down their neck to make him or her famous. Just about anything (from whether "the girls get prettier at closing time," to September 11th) is fodder for a psychologist's wet dreams.

      "Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious. " ~ Finley Peter Dunne

    • Better that than Pigman's thesis from PCU:

      "Pigman is trying to prove the Caine-Hackman theory. No matter what time it is, 24 hours a day, you can find a Michael Caine or Gene Hackman movie playing on TV!"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I know it's hard but the title and first two lines of it had me thinking this was a psychological study on equalizers. EverQuest doesn't dominate most people's lives as much as it does yours.
  • by mystery_bowler (472698) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @02:48AM (#2992785) Homepage
    ...surprising. Students seem to be the largest demographic, which makes sense because students (especially at the college level) tend to have more free time on their hands (assuming they are providing their classes with the average level of ignoring). Which lends itself to the lowest household income being the highest demographic, since students don't tend to have a lot of income.

    What surprises me so much about EQ (I'm a former EQ'er myself) is how much the game appeals to housewives and stay-at-home moms. My mother, who is in her 50s, has been playing for two years now and has gotten no less than two other housewives into EQ. My mother may not be a fair example, after all, this is a woman who bought a Playstation just for Final Fantasy VII, but the other housewives are prime examples of people who had never played a PC game in their lives (and few console games). Yet, something in EQ's mechanics and social structure hooks them and won't let go. I'd like to see a more in-depth analysis of that demographic, simply because I don't think anyone, including Verant, foresaw them becoming a significant portion of the crowd.

    Just as a snide/side note: When I read that a good percentage of the EQers in the survey said they play with a romantic partner, I wondered aloud how many of those EQers are playing with a romantic partner they met through the game and never in real life.
    • I'm not going over to your house, man. Is that bat-wing pie?
    • by Iffy Bonzoolie (1621) <iffy@@@xarble...org> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:04AM (#2993004) Journal
      Just as a snide/side note: When I read that a good percentage of the EQers in the survey said they play with a romantic partner, I wondered aloud how many of those EQers are playing with a romantic partner they met through the game and never in real life.

      Just to flag myself as lame: I met my first girlfriend on a MUD. Actually, I met her while hanging out in real life with other people that I met through the MUD... but whatever... once I had a girlfriend, I stopped playing the MUD. I used to spend hours and hours (and hours) on that MUD, but during the time I was dating her, I quitmud, and never went back to any MMORPG (4 years so far), even after we broke up.

      I guess my point is that I used MUD as a substitute for real-life interaction. When I finally had the opportunity to be with other people IRL, MUD didn't interest me in any way, and, in general, I was much happier.

      On the other hand, it's not like I would be out clubbing at night without MUD... it was at least some sort of social interaction, one I was actually comfortable with, and one I wouldn't have got otherwise.

      Anyway, your last comment reminded me of them old days.

      -If
      • during the time I was dating her, I quitmud,

        Stealthily trying to coin a new verb, eh?
        • during the time I was dating her, I quitmud,

          Stealthily trying to coin a new verb, eh?

          That was actually what we called it when someone tried to quit the MUD. Most people came back in a couple weeks... :)

          There was an entire MUD subculture of speech. Some phrases or words crossed several MUDs, like "bogleg" (originially a mistyping of "boggle"), and some were specific to the MUD I played, like "quitmud." When mudders got together, they spoke what seemed to be another language, leaving any random non-mudders about completely baffled.

          -If
      • Just as a counterexample: I met a girl (not my first girlfriend) on a MUSH back in '93. We met "in the flesh" in '94. In '97, we were married, and we'll celebrate our 5 year anniversary in August.

        Oh: and we both play regularly on Dragonsfire MOO [thegreenery.net].
    • by Kirruth (544020) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:11AM (#2993012) Homepage

      Well, alot of women (including myself) get into these games because the men they know in real life are playing them. Of the three women in my guild, two have husbands - you know, real ones they sleep with - who play the game.

      When I was doing alot of IRC, the stay at home moms were a big proportion of the people in the chat-room I opped. Not surprising, really: the computer provides a lifeline to adult conversation. These games provide a 3D interactive environment in which to chat and meet people - what's not to like?

    • by Xenographic (557057) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:22AM (#2993027) Homepage Journal
      Better read that again. When it spoke of "romantic partners" it was talking about RL one, not fantasy ones. It's just as well, since half the female charactors are really males, though that only disturbs people a little less than 2 on a 1 to 5 scale, apparently [1 is "not bothered at all"].

      There are plenty of interesting tidbits, though. For one, females are likely to be attracted to the game by their SO. Female charactors tend to get unsolicited help a lot more, while male charactors tend to be taken more seriously [note that this refers only to the charactors, not the players--the section on "gender bending" illuminates this quite a lot, from telling us that a lot of the people play a charactor of the opposite gender because they like the looks of them, to telling us about some guys who like to play women for the deferential treatment]

      Granted, none of it is exactly earth-shattering, but it's still an interesting read if you have any interest in what motivates people.

    • When I read that a good percentage of the EQers in the survey said they play with a romantic partner, I wondered aloud how many of those EQers are playing with a romantic partner they met through the game and never in real life.

      My wife and I play EQ together. Our play time is quite limited since real life is alway getting in the way. :-) And no, we didn't meet in-game.

      Milalwi
    • Guild MeanPeople are always trying to put down Guild GoodPeople. They are always sneaking about trying to make GoodPeople miserable while GoodPeople are constantly trying to succeed no matter what. Wait a minute, why were GoodCleric hanging out with a bunch of MeanPeople group? We know they are short of knowledge able Clerics and are agressively recruiting. Are they trying to sway them with good gear and big items?

      This stuff happens all of the time in EQ. The social interaction is quiet deep. Rivalries, "debts", and sneaking can and do happen. Why wouldn't homemakers eat this kind of drama up?!
    • I had never heard of EverQuest until my new neighbour (single mother) introduced me and got me hooked on it.. I'm also a single mom. I don't play as much since I'm in college.. What you said about relationships, a lot of the relationships on EQ are roleplayed only, not taken outside of the game. It has had a big impact on some of my friends' lives though.. My other friend that lives near me is in the middle of a divorce because he couldn't get away from the game. Two other people I know that met in-game did get involved, did meet, and are now married. I've also met real-life married couples in the game that fight over who gets to play first. That could be part of the playing with romantic partners.
  • EverCrack (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ccochese (158111) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @02:49AM (#2992788) Homepage
    I'll admit it, I was addicted for about 6 months, and I quit after I realized that there was no possible way I could learn anything of any value by playing it any more. Well, I guess there is one thing you can learn, and that's that if you put enough hard work into something, it can pay off, but I realized that getting phat lewtz and my epic weapon and lvl 60 and all that didn't amount to jack in the real world, so it was time to stop. But MAN is it addictive..
    • I realized that getting phat lewtz and my epic weapon and lvl 60 and all that didn't amount to jack in the real world, so it was time to stop.

      Heh. When I realized that busting my ass for a PHB in the real world to make the payments on my new Mercedes didn't amount to jack, I decided it was time to stop.

      I took up OSS development instead, and I find it much more rewarding. To each his own. :)
      • There's still a diffrence between coding OSS, or a job or a girlfriend or whatever and sitting around playing EQ (or in my case posting crap on /.)...
        • I've never played EQ. I'm just saying that from his description, I think I get the general idea, having worked hard for equally unfulfilling goals.

          gf is a different story - she's well worth the effort. ;)
        • Unless you're like me and you code OSS...but you code MUDs. :P
    • Is it so bad to play something just for the fun of it even though you don't learn anything from it. Personally I don't play games to learn how to shoot a gun or play hockey or whatever. I play games because it's fun and that's it. I enjoy the moments games give me _away_ from everyday life where everything is about learning/producing stuff.

      This isn't meant to pick on you (or anyone else). It's just that I hear a lot of people who don't play games or who have given up playing games because you can't learn anything.
  • Evercrack (Score:2, Funny)

    by autopr0n (534291)
    It's sad to see, EverCrack, just like real crack hits the lower [nickyee.com] classes the hardest. for shame.

    Btw, did any one else notice that most female everquest players seem to be married and almost/ greater then 30?
    • I know some people who's marriages were stressed 'because' of everquest. Of course, these marriages were doomed to start with - But in this respect Evercrack is better than real crack, because evercrack doesn't directly make you sick and chemically addicted.

      So maybe evercrack is a good thing to have around... some people have addictive personalities, some addictions are better than others..

      --Jeff
      • I know a guy whose wife left him to go live with some other guy she met playing EQ.

        What the hell, she was ugly anyway.
        • I know more than a few RL relationships that ended up being ruined over people they met online (MUD, not EQ, but same thing really). Of course, I also know more than a few people who met that way and have wonderful, loving relationships to this day.
    • EverCrack, just like real crack hits the lower classes the hardest. for shame.

      Who are you implying should feel shame? When a developer creates an amazing, epic game that gets consumed by people with low incomes (among many others), should the developer feel shame?

      I don't think so. Unless the developer targeted that specific income group or a weakness of people with low incomes. eg. false hope of getting out of their situation, like lottery tickets supposedly do. I don't think EQ or any game really claims to offer hope or an improved lifestyle though.
  • Wow, I'm a bit surprised about the data on playing EQ with a romantic partner. Then again, I wonder how romantically involved can you be with your partner, if he/she rather talk to you in EQ than to see you in real life.
    • Because everyone knows you can only spend ALL your time doing one thing, and never the other. Why, it would be just plain silly to have a good real life relationship with someone AND want to game with the SAME PERSON! ;)
      • My wife and I played together EQ for about a year. I was a High Elf Paladin, she a High Elf Enchantress. We started together, leveled together, and grouped together. We each had other characters, but our primary characters were together. I personally was glad my wife wanted to play - I had a mage until lv 5, then she created a character and said "OK, I'm buying this!". We also know two other married couples here locally that play EQ together, and also group together.

        It allowed us to do something fun together; for me to play a game without ignoring her (she's not much of a Quake III player); and for her to better understand why I like computer gaming as a stress relief tool.

        We have since quit EQ - I hit 33, she was 35, and we were becoming bored and frustrated with the time requirements at those levels. We also bought a house and the Real World has taken over. :) We've tried Dark Age of Camelot, and may return to it at some point.

        My point here? Gaming with your SO _can_ be very fun. You have another thing in common, and it can be a nice diversion from the realities of paying bills, etc. I mean hey, you can't spend the whole week in bed. :)

    • It doesn't surprise me at all, not that I'm that fortunate. My friends wife is a total gaming geek. StarCraft, Diablo, UT (which she's especially good at), even "table-top" RPGs (they're going to DunDraCon for their romantic Valentines weekend). Lucky bastard.

      What is interesting, though, is how the "DM's Girlfriend" dynamic changes when she becomes the DM's wife. He never really fell into that trap, though not for lack of trying on her part. He used to say "Crap, I'm in the dog house again. Oh well.", but now he just laughs. It's funny how your perspective changes when breaking up involves lawyers.

      My wife is a bit more typical. Wearing the Chicks Dig Unix [thinkgeek.com] shirt I got her is about as close as she gets to any of my geekly habits. She is OS agnostic, though, which is handy since we only have one computer. As long as she can check her email, she's happy.

      I think she would really like Counter-Strike, but she refuses to try it.

  • Actually, although I don't play Everquest, I found this a fascinating study. I play several other online RPG's, and I'm starting to wonder how different games relate on the questions that were asked. For instance, the main game I play in "The Realm", by Codemasters. I know that a great deal of the people that play this game are older. There was a survey ran a year or so ago that put the adverage age at about 28.
  • by nomadic (141991)
    Now that really puts the abnormal back in abnormal psychology...
    • Re:hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

      by reo_kingu (536791)
      I'm a psychology/computer science major, and after reading all of these posts I really want to write a lot about why the trend of so many people using forums like everquest, AOL chat rooms, etc to find mates is NOT HEALTHY. But then I realize that that would be pointless, everyone KNOWS why, even the people that do it.

      I'm speaking from experience, a few years ago I dated and then moved in with a girl I met online. Of course we both had the same social problems that led us to need that avenue to meet in the first place, and it didn't work out in the long run.
      Put simply, people who go looking for a girlfriend or boyfriend online need to address their need for distance and safety from rejection and face it, not use it to pick up someone only to realize later that you don't love Fred from Alabama, you love Thangor the lvl 62 Paladin with his shiny plate mail :)

      you know what I mean.
      • Why exactly? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by autopr0n (534291)
        How is meeting a girl online any different then meeting a girl in real life? Certainly meeting a chick via an online dating site or AIM or something isn't any different then meeting a chick in a singles bar. How could it be? I'm speaking from experience, a few years ago I dated and then moved in with a girl I met online. Of course we both had the same social problems that led us to need that avenue to meet in the first place, and it didn't work out in the long run.

        If you're really a psych major, you should know better then to draw inferences from single data points. There could be a lot of factors that caused you to break up, aside from the fact that you were both nerds. Hell, most relationships don't last in the long run; you're likely to go through a couple of SOs/relationships in your life before you find the "right one" (if you ever do). And of course distance can be a problem, but some people, I guess, desperate or romantic enough to move for someone they haven't spent much time with. And it can work out. Personally, I've met a pretty cute, and definitely cool chick over the net. We seem to have great chemistry and are interested in each other (and she's Asian!). But unfortunately she lives in Canada... And again, I'm not one who would uproot my life for a chick, and nether is she. Unless something catastrophic happens we probably won't be anything other then friends (keeping my fingers crossed for benefits :P)

        But say you can meet someone from nearby. What, exactly, is wrong with that? Maybe it would be better if a person wasn't as shy (or in my case lazy), but if they can hookup despite, why is it really such a huge issue? Who knows, maybe they go to an engineering school without a lot of chicks.

        As far meeting people in online games like EQ, well, if you are doing that you probably have a problem, not the least of which is a distorted sense of reality (looking for chicks in a game where 70% of the populous is male and 80% of the chicks are in relationships?). But if you incidentally meet a girl who shares your interest in the game, and reflects your interest in her, well, how is that unhealthy? I mean, maybe they shouldn't be spending so much time staring at a computer monitor... but they are, they both are. And what could be better then finding someone who shares your passions? And how would it be different then meeting a chick in a collage class or a gym or something?

        Maybe you had a bad experience, but any reall social scientist (or any scientist for that matter) would tell you that one data point does not give you the write to castigate a huge set of people as being 'unhealthy'.

        I mean, what really is so bad about using the internet to find love or get laid [adultfriendfinder.com]
        • As far meeting people in online games like EQ, well, if you are doing that you probably have a problem, not the least of which is a distorted sense of reality (looking for chicks in a game where 70% of the populous is male and 80% of the chicks are in relationships?).

          Well, I met my fiancee in EQ, and we're getting married in just over a month.

          For the record, however, neither of us was "looking" for someone else in the game (we were both doing the dating thing outside the game of course). And we've both said that we never thought we'd be those dweebs that meet someone else in game and fall in love and whatever. But hey, here we are. She lived 800 miles away from me at the time, so we started off just talking to each other in game. Then we used Gamevoice to talk to each other at night while playing, roughly 6-8 hours a night, every night (yes, we were serious EQ addicts and are in the uber guild on our server). Things progressed over a few months, and we met each other in real life, and eventually things worked out well enough that she was able to relocate to the same city I live in.

          This is two people in their late-20s too, both college graduates in the technical field. We're not a couple of stupid school kids, and we took things slowly and carefully. And thus far it's working out. A couple of our best friends met each other on a MUD many years ago and got married. About a month ago they celebrated their 6th wedding anniversary. And yes, these are friends in real life who I knew from work.

          We don't play that much now - on rare occasions we spend 2 or 3 nights a week playing now - but we do still play and enjoy playing together.

          The internet is just another place to meet people, no different from bars, nightclubs, sport and social clubs, or anything else. Generally to meet someone it means you have to be yourself, you have to be careful, and you have to not be desperately seeking someone. Ignoring the first means you'll never find someone you fit with. Ignoring the second means you'll just hurt yourself. Ignoring the third means you'll never actually meet someone as they avoid the "needy" aura eminating from you.
  • NeverSleep ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cybermage (112274) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @03:00AM (#2992812) Homepage Journal
    is what some friends and I called the game when played by co-workers and friends.

    The one consistent theme in all of them was being red-eyed and having no free time.

    On the other hand, one met her husband through the game, so I guess it can't be all bad.
    • "On the other hand, one met her husband through the game, so I guess it can't be all bad. "

      Oh, I assume you mean the game (it) can't be all that bad. For a moment there I thought you were talking about the husband ;)
  • by tapin (157076)
    ...wrt the "relationships" page with The Sims. My wife has a veritable zoo of character's she's created, and constantly has romances going between any and every member, especially since I got her "Hot Date" for her birthday.

    Something tells me the "roleplayed a romance with characters of both genders" stat would be quite a bit higher.

  • Argh! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nickovsky (245391) <[Nickovsky] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @03:06AM (#2992822)
    So is he saying, that hot elf chick that I adventure with really isnt a chick!? No!!!! Say it isnt so!
    • Actualy, I think you'd have a higher chance of having the chick actualy be a chick then a guy pretending to be a chick. Based on the numbers presented.

      On the other hand, she probably wouldn't be hot. And certanly not an elf :P
    • I once had a nick on IRC from a female Anime character. I never specifically claimed to be female yet virtually everyone assumed I was. I also cleared it up with anyone who tried making advances, as I'm not into that thing. I was just going though an obsession with an anime girl.
      After all who wouldn't want to be a cat-girl android?
      Or at least have one.
    • I dunno - it depends on, in part, how they were acting. I was a PSO addict (yeah, different game, but I have always wanted to do a study like this one on it), and one of the things that got me so hooked was that, because my character was a hottie, I would get *tons* of free stuff and help (Yeah, we women just want the material stuff - sure. The main reason I played was the social aspect - just like this study states for EQ). One time, though, I was watching a guy I was dating play and this chick came up offering panties and such for gifts; I teased him unmercifully because you could *tell* it was a man!! Men like exploiting each other too on these games, so sometimes you have to look at other clues (besides the bulbous breasts/ fishnets/ and huge sword!).

      What was amusing is that, even though I play female chars, it took a while to convince a few people I met in the game that I *was* female IRL. So, in essence, even if they suspect that I held a Y chromosome somewhere under my pixelated skirt, they still wanted to offer my character free stuff. I know of a few males who report playing female because they can get cooler items from other people.

      I did not get a chance to check out every facet of this study, but I think it would be interesting to do some empirical research into whether the role-playing extends to being a "provider" for some of those female avatars - either men get the boost of being the one with the resources, or else, akin to some very fascinating studies by Dr. David Buss at the University of Texas at Austin Evolution of Desire [barnesandnoble.com], males feel like they are not spending much on a female avatar (besides imaginary money and time) in order to get something in return. Buss' research suggests there is empirical evidence of an inverse correlation between how much a man has to give to a women versus the degree to which he wants to sleep with her (basically, the less a guy has to do to get sex, the more he wants it - some of his studies are pretty amusing and faceted).

      But hey, the more you adventure with someone, I am sure the more likely their gender will become apparent - that is, unless you have no experience with women and you have called your mother your Valentine for the last 25 years. ;-)

    • She probably isn't an elf, either...
  • by autopr0n (534291) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @03:26AM (#2992840) Homepage Journal
    You know what's interesting about this, is how 'addictive' these games are. A lot of people playing them seem to joke about it, and those who no longer do say they've 'quit' the same way a smoker would. A poster here a while ago mentioned 'nerfing' the game - making advancement based on repetitive tasks rather then pure skill - and how doing so makes the game more addictive.

    Now, I'm sure ever quest was designed the way it was to be fun, not purely addictive, but suppose a game truly were? It might be an interesting thing to do, design a game purely for its addictive qualities, maybe a little immoral though :P.

    I also wonder if perhaps as interactive entertainment becomes more pervasive if we aren't going to see something truly addictive... so much so that it could ruin someone's life (not that EQ hasn't. There are a couple instances of marriages being ruined by the game/ jobs lost, etc). Would the government step in and regulate the games industry? Should it?

    Personally, I'm against the 'war on drugs', but I don't think a totally unregulated drug market would be a good thing either. Are non-chemical psychological 'drugs' really that different?
    • Now, I'm sure ever quest was designed the way it was to be fun, not purely addictive, but suppose a game truly were? It might be an interesting thing to do, design a game purely for its addictive qualities, maybe a little immoral though :P.

      That's the whole idea ;o) Create a highly addictive product and charge a per use fee. It doesn't even have to be interesting, innovative, fun, etc... just addictive. I wonder if it leaves stains on your teeth?
    • Personally, I'm against the 'war on drugs', but I don't think a totally unregulated drug market would be a good thing either. Are non-chemical psychological 'drugs' really that different?

      A better analogy would be gambling. EverQuest is a game like Poker. People love it for the adrenalin high that they get. I doubt it would ever be regulated. Remember the furor about Dungeons and Dragons? That was never regulated. Gambling is regulated because it is really easy to gamble away your life savings. Gaming away your time is considered your own problem, not the governments! They are probably happy to have you wasting your time in front of the computer instead of participating in democracy.

    • Well, designing something for addiction is nothing new, it has been going for a long time.
      Two prime examples are chips (basically a thin carrier with lots of natrium-glutamate) and (ultra)light cigarette (a nicotine-addict needs a given value of nicotine - if smoking one cigeratte does not result in enough nicotine, the user will light another)
    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @08:18AM (#2993333) Homepage
      • Personally, I'm against the 'war on drugs', but I don't think a totally unregulated drug market would be a good thing either. Are non-chemical psychological 'drugs' really that different?

      Different from some chemical drugs, but not the ones you might think.

      Alcohol, nicotene and caffiene are all highly toxic and physiologically addicting. When you come off them, you suffer physical (not just psychological) effects. That's what makes them so hard to kick.

      Cocaine on the other hand, is not physiologically addicting. You'll miss and crave the hit it gives you, but you have to go through the sweats and shakes. You might start using it again, you might even take to crime to do it, but you'll do it through conscious choice.

      In that respect, EverQuest's nickname of EverCrack is quite appropriate. You'll miss playing it. You'll miss the good feelings and memories that you associate with playing it. But you should be able to come off it quickly, and with no harmful effects in the short or long term, if you want to.

      Incidentally, if this sounds like I'm advocating cocaine over alcohol, nicotene or caffiene, I am. Ask a casualty doctor about alcohol, or a ward doctor about nicotene. Caffiene in the same quantities as cocaine will kill you stone dead. We only tend to think of it as harmless because we take it in small and well controlled amounts, and it's cheap and uncut with random crap.

      In fact, it's binge abuse of any drug that damages you (physically and socially) and over use of an expensive drug (note: the illegality causes the cost) that damages society through crime. There's a similar argument to be made for game playing. Small and regular never hurt anybody. It's when you play for hours or days, igoring friends and family (and perhaps work) and your health, that it becomes a problem. Unfortunately, immersive and flat fee games like EverQuest are exactly the sort of games that can facilitate this damage.

      Note: facilitate. I'd no more try to ban something like EverQuest than I would cocaine. The problem is the people with addictive personalities, not in the addicting substance. However, I would (given World Dictator powers) try and encourage light use. Bells and reminders, a need for characters to sleep in real time, perhaps (maybe, possible) even an enforced daily, weekly or monthly time limit, although that would be a last resort and probably counterproductive.

      • Incidentally, if this sounds like I'm advocating cocaine over alcohol, nicotene or caffiene, I am. Ask a casualty doctor about alcohol, or a ward doctor about nicotene. Caffiene in the same quantities as cocaine will kill you stone dead. We only tend to think of it as harmless because we take it in small and well controlled amounts, and it's cheap and uncut with random crap.

        I'll have to stop smoking those caffeine rocks.

        Seriously, it's silly to say that "Caffiene in the same quantities as cocaine will kill you stone dead" because even the most addicted people self regulate their intake far below lethal levels of toxicity. Caffeine, even in refined over the counter preparations, simply is not very dangerous, except in the possible cases like accidental poisioning of a child. As far as the typical "caffeine addict" is concerned, it is just as unlikely that you can kill yourself with natural, unrefined sources of caffeine as you could, say, chewing coca leaves, a common and benign Andean practice.

        Honore de Balzac, the French novelist, reportedly drank over a hundred cups of coffee a day. His habit was so severe he suffered withdrawal symptoms during the time he waited for his coffee to brew: "even though you make it of the finest ingredients and take it perfectly fresh, you will fall into horrible sweats, suffer feebleness of the nerves, and undergo episodes of severe drowsiness." Eventually he took to eating coffee grounds directly. If anyone should die of acute caffeine poisoning, it should have been him, but he continued on this way for years.

        Eventually, Balzac did die of heart disease at the age of 51, not acute caffeine poisioning. Some have suggested caffeine was implicated in his early demise, but his physician maintained his heart disease was cogenital. In any case dying of a coronary at 51 is not unheard of even today, and not an unusually short lifespan for 1850.

        There is an impressive roster of caffeine addicts: William Harvey (the discoverer of blood circulation), the composers J.S. Bach, Beethoven, and Rossini, and of course Balzac. This would be an impressive testament to caffeines powers, except that caffeine addiction is so common that virtually any large group, accomplished or not, is bound to have people notable for their caffeine excesses. And while there must be billions of caffeine addicts in the world, acute caffeine poisioning is virtually unheard of, though theoretically possible. This would make caffeine among the safer group, not of drugs but food additives. Certainly more safe than Asprartame (nutrasweet) which can kill people with phenylketonuria (PKU), and cause epileptic-like siezures in normal people.

    • There's an article on GamaSutra [gamasutra.com] (free registration required) about how to design a game to maximize it's addictiveness. It's not phrased that way of course, but I'd be willing to bet if you made a comparison between the article and EverQuest, you'd have a perfect correlation. I know I discovered that when I compared Diablo 2.

      Theoretically you could make a video game as mentally addictive as any drug (and maybe Verant already has?), all you need to do is research the psychology.

      Remember, Louis Woo was the only man to ever quit the wire...
    • I agree that there needs to be a study on this sort of thing. I have a couple of friends that had their lives absolutely RUINED by Ultima Online. (In other words, they couldn't quit playing, the line between fantasy and reality was blurred, etc... They quit school, lost their jobs, and I even know of one extra-marital relationship that was caused from playing in game!!!)

      That being said, you have to suspect something about a game that focuses on time and investment to raise stat/skill gains over time, and the requirement that you must have high skills to accomplish "great" things in the game. What we have to realize, is that our time given to them is not free. These companies make money per month. The longer they can keep you hooked, the longer that you will pay their subscription fee. I find that people with addictive personalities are particularly vulnerable to this type of game, as it requires a large time investment to make your character "good", whereas games like Half-life and Quake, your base skill is what makes you "good", as everyone else's character is created equal according to the code.
      Like everything else in this world, the MMORPG market is a racket, whose primary goal is to keep the subscription base up. The way to do that is to manipulate the game engine to where no on can really be too successful without a lot of time spent doing repetitive tasks, and "playing". I enjoy MMORPG's but most of the time I'm not playing, I'm working for that company, and they're getting paid.

  • by Zico (14255) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @03:33AM (#2992848)

    I'll buy you a nice big Japanese beer if you go back and redo the survey, this time including the questions you somehow left out:

    • How much do you weigh?
    • What r u wearing?
  • oh geez.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by vex24 (126288) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @03:54AM (#2992878) Homepage
    ...and I thought playing EQ was a waste of time! ;)
  • evercrack (Score:3, Funny)

    by blowhole (155935) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:00AM (#2992891)
    I played for about a month until I realized that the game just wasn't fun enough to justify playing a game in a horrendously ancient outdated 3d engine. And riding around in those slow slow slow boats is teh suck!

    I actually never tried playing as a female character for some reason. I think I would have if the female character models were done better. I played the Rogue character in Diablo 1 just because of the "zoom" key!
  • by greylouser (532845) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:05AM (#2992908)
    Interesting to note the distinction between the reported favorite races (listed here highest to lowest):

    Wood Elf, Human, Dark Elf, High Elf

    and the races that most people would rather be:

    Wood Elf, High Elf, Human, Dark Elf

    A similar distinction results from looking at the class data: Warrior is listed as the second-favorite class, but ranks a distant sixth in the list of classes people would like to be, were Norath real.

    This implies that people would rather be a class or race that isn't their favorite.

    In fact, this may raise questions about the validity of these questions as measures of underlying preferences, although I don't know to what standard they should be compared.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The discreprency probably lies in people's desire to play the role of the class but desire to have the power of another. Someone might like the idea of being a tree hugging druid but pass up playing one because a warrior deals more damage for example.

      Note: I've never played EQ so the above example is probably a bad one. But I've played lots of other (computer and tabletop) roleplaying games and I've definately observed how people gravitate towards the more powerful classes and away from the weaker ones despite their roleplaying preferences.

      Any EQr's want to confirm/refute that?

    • I dont agree - this does not necessarily mean that people would want to be a class or race they didnt like - it means that if norrath were real - people would most likely choose that which is farthest from our earth based reality.

      Being a warrior is a good class to be in the game as it allows you to be tough and fight things without dying as much (hopefully) - but given the choice almost anyone would opt to havethe ability to cast spells - and have inherent racial advantages over what we are used to in the human form.

      it doesnt mean that they questions or answers are any less valid - it simply means that based on the change of factors of "being there" people have a virtual preference, and a "physical/mental/desire" preference.
      .
  • Game Addiction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by byronbussey (238252) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:17AM (#2992925) Homepage
    I find this study very interesting. I see parallels with myself when I was playing a game an average of 3 hours a day (6 on the weekends) called Action Supercross. It is a stupidly simple game where you drive a 2d motocycle through a level and try to get the best time, that's it. Of course there is a world record list where people from all over the world try and get the best times. On top of this, there is another goal to add up all your best times from all the levels for your Total Time. Spending 5 hours shaving 20 seconds, or even less for the top players (1-5 seconds), of your total is totally normal. I was so into this game that when I had a History paper to write I would let my self have "one life" for every 100 words I wrote!!!

    This game has since evolved into Elastomania [elastomania.com]the site of all sites is here [moposite.com]. For some reason it is dominated by Scandinavians; I think they invented rally racing so it makes sense I guess.

    It looks stupid I know, just download one of the track replays for the demo version and see if you can come even close to the top times. Some people have been playing since 1998
  • by roffe (26714) <roffe@extern.uio.no> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:29AM (#2992945) Homepage

    in particular I appreciate their using a modern personality test (the NEO-PI) rather than the ubiquitous but outdated (in my opinion at least) MBTI or 16PF.

    I would like to take this opportunity to comment on one statement:

    Almost everyone who has taken an introductory psychology course in high school or college has heard of B.F. Skinner. Skinner is an important figure in Behaviorism, and developed a learning theory known as Operant Conditioning. Skinner claimed that the frequency of a given behavior is directly linked to whether it is rewarded or punished. If a behavior is rewarded, it is more likely to be repeated. If it is punished, it becomes suppressed.

    You will find this repeated in any one given introductory pscyhology text, but this is wrong all the same. Skinner would never have said this. The point is that Skinner defines his procedures functionally. That is to say that he would state that if a behavior's strength or frequency increases after the presentation of a stimulus, then that stimulus can be said to be a reinforcer for that behavior. In common language, a reward is anything that is considered pleasant, but many behaviors can be "rewarded" in thiss sense until you are blue in the face with no apparent effect on the behavior. Within Skinners parlance, a stimulus is a reinforcer only if it works.

    In practice, behaviors tend to get repeated also in this cases where they are punished (this is one of the reasons why prison doesn't make people law-abiding). Behavior analysts, when doing behavior modification, tend to reward behaviors that they wish to strengthen, and ignore (in technical terms, extinguish) behaviors that they want to go away. In preparation for a behavior modification, the client needs to be examined to find suitable reinforcers, precicely because people differ and one person's reward can be another person's punishment.

    • As a youngster, I broke the law solely for the thrill of being punished (or more often, cunningly escaping punishment).

      It's a frequently overlooked aspect of human psychology. We're not lab rats. Many of us rebel just for the pleasure of doing so - it's not as simple as dangling a carrot to make us behave.
  • They don't come right out and say it, so this summary might save some of y'all a few minutes:

    "Slashdotting geeks, and lots of old women are well represented in the cross-section of EQ players sampled. We were constantly amazed at how often spontaneous /. references popped out while surveying this motley crowd."

    There. Now go back to work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:38AM (#2992959)
    Would be how EverQuest and its addiction affects the "real" lives of those who play it. How many students have failed classes, lost scholerships, been pulled home by their parents all due to excessive power-leveling? And married couples...a lot of us at work joke that we no longer play EQ at the insistence of our wives. I've even heard of "the better half" laying down the law, saying "quit EQ or I'll leave you."

    The social benefits seemed to always be praised with computer games like this, but I for one would like to know how many are truly negatively impacted by this and other MMORPG games.

    greg
  • EQ reminds me of a psych test a friend of mine made in college. It was a video game similar to space invaders where he wanted to see how people adapt and optimize thier strategy. In his game, the optimal strategy was to sit in the left corner and only shoot at a special ship that came by periodically (just hold the fire button down), and ignore all everything else. There was a contest with a money prize after a couple of weeks for high score. Not one player in his test found the strategy; they all got confused and ran amok shooting worthless stuff. Sort of like the computer in "War Games" only the real humans never figured it out.

    Everquest is a totally mindless game. Like the game of LIFE, it has zero strategy or tactics. If you think it does, remember the psych test.
  • by Patrick May (305709) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:45AM (#2993052)


    There are a large number of online, multiplayer roleplaying games, similar in theme if not in style to EverQuest, that are free (as in beer) to their players. My personal favorite, Ancient Anguish [anguish.org], is one of the largest and has been running continuously for ten years.



    The most compelling aspect of these games is not the gameplay, for most players, but the social interactions. I know of several married couples who met on the MUD. Quite possibly the social aspects are enhanced by the lack of fees. It would be interesting to see a similar study done on some of the free MUDs.


  • by BelDion (109503) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @08:18AM (#2993331) Homepage Journal
    Though I`m not a whiz at math or statistics, my rudamentry understanding of both leads me to two conclusions:

    1) There's only a 16% chance that HotBabe13 is female.

    2) There's only a 13.5% chance that if she is a she, she is single and not dating..

    So, for anybody I meet, I have about a 2% chance that they a single female. Leaving out other variables, I like those odds! :)
  • Wonder if it's any coincedence that I got engaged six months after I quite playing EQ? (DAoC never engaged me that much...er yuck that kind of makes a bad pun come to think of it...)
  • I played AC for a while and got bored to tears. It's so repetitive! Why can't gameplay be more like this:

    http://www.rit.edu/~jlc6534/rezyndance_hi.wmz [rit.edu]

    Click the link and watch this video. Someone has too much time on his hands, but this video is GREAT! This is what MMORPG's should _really_ be like!

  • An online publication venue for this kind of work (and a place to go to read other related work) is the Journal of Virtual Environments [brandeis.edu] (formerly Journal of Mud Research).
  • If you think EQ is fun/addictivie, prepare to drool: http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/ [sony.com]
  • by Om242 (558341) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @11:14AM (#2994033)
    I actually bought the game for my girlfriend and I when we first started dating. Me, having experience with MUDs from way back in 91, knew that this had the possibility to really get a hobby that we could do together, and also to see if she even liked this sort of fantasy stuff (which I do).

    However, the point where I knew things were going downhill was when we were sitting next to each other playing the game, and after winning the lotto on a new sword I see on my screen amongst a slew of other tells:

    "Yiliae tells you, 'Gratz on getting that sword!'

    I turn slowly to my girlfriend sitting next to me and say, 'Why did you just type that to me?'

    ++Om
  • 55% - Geeks.
    45% - Dorks.

    ~jeff
  • by LinuxHam (52232) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @12:38PM (#2994564) Homepage Journal
    Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet [barpoint.com] by Dr. Sherry Turkle.

    Great book. Provides excellent insight into the psychology of RPG gamers.
  • Analysis Bias (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shreak (248275) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @01:34PM (#2994962)
    I found the analysis on the "Play-Nice Rule" statistic interesting:
    The majority (67.7%, N=1702) of players feel that the Play-Nice Rules either made no difference or actually made things worse.
    The spread was:
    12.5 % - Made Worse
    55.5 % - No Change
    31.4 % - Made Better

    So a significant majority (86.9%) thought that the Play-Nice rules made things as good or better than before. I wonder what the opinion of the analyzer was ;-) It also makes me wonder if any bias was introduced into the methodology.

    =Shreak
  • Another academic study of EverQuest, from a different angle: Cal State Fullerton business professor Edward Castranova did an economic survey of Norrath [fullerton.edu], which he plans to publish in an economics journal.
  • The most entertaining part about this whole report is that if you look at the male female comparisions, the answers are almost exactly the same.

    The report is basically useless and doesn't tell us anything new. But this guy is going to go on to his thesis review, where they'll tell him that it is interesting but he needs to redo it. And they'll say that for about eight reviews till they decide to let it go.
  • Heh, this is my favorite quote from the article under "Gender-bending" in respects to men hitting on men playing female characters:

    No, I know most males think with their gonads, and act accordingly. They live up to my low expectations. [m, 25]

    Magius_AR

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