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Quantification of EQ Players 162

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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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by tapin ( 157076 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @03:01AM (#2992813)
    ...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.

  • 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?
  • 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 []the site of all sites is here []. 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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 [], 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 Wire Tap ( 61370 ) <frisina AT atlanticbb DOT net> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @07:39AM (#2993270)
    I'd say this is more Sociology than Psychology, although I always find the two blending together (despite what my teacher tells me) when the Micro world of Sociology is in question. However, yes, I agree with what you said, Autopr0n Man, this stuff would be of great help to Verant for product marketing.

    As for: This game is popular because it, apparently, touches is something deep inside a lot of people. And it doesn't let go. If you know what, or why, or if you can reproduce that. You can make yourself a lot of money.

    I know what that something is - escapism. Pure and simple. I've played Ultima Online, EverQuest, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, and many more... and I will continue to try out almost all the new MMORPGs as they come out (Horizon's looks fantastic), but, I know why I play: to escape into a world where things are just a little different - sometimes even better. I admit that I was fully and completely addicted to Ultima Online for two years of my life. I scheduled my time around parts of the day with the least lag (this was back in 1998-2000 when I didn't have a cable modem), and I would choose my sleep schedule accordingly. It affected my grades in 9th and 10th grade, and then, I quit. I knew it was too much for me. I played EverQuest fairly heavily during 10th grade, also, as I was one of the first round beta testers (woo!), but I did something different: I wrote a strategy guide and sold it on eBay. "The EverQuest Platinum Plan." I made something like 20k in a matter of two months. It was astonishing. But, as summer drew to a close, I knew I had to quit all my online gaming, and get serious about 11th grade.

    HA! I bought Asheron's Call, and played that during most of 11th grade. I wrote another strategy guide for it, and made a few hundred dollars. I didn't play AC as much as UO or EQ, though, so my grades did not suffer because of it. In fact, I got As all through 11th grade. It was all about moderation.

    And now, soon to be a college sophomore, triple (maybe quadruple) major student in some pretty heavy sciences, I'm still waiting on the edge of my seat for the next MMORPG to come sweep me away to Never Never Land. I love the sweet taste of escape on my lips every now and again.
  • 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.

  • by TonyZahn ( 534930 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @10:01AM (#2993666) Homepage
    There's an article on GamaSutra [] (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...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @06:53PM (#2996826)
    As a former EQ gamer these statistics sound right to me. Playing EQ takes most of your time, enough of your money, and very little of us see the out side to meet a nice girl. I think this is a funny survey and people need to understand that it is just a game get a life.
    Thats why i stopped

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"