- the StarOnion – FFXI Fenrir to FFXIV Excalibur - https://www.staronion.com/maiev/nfblog -

the Psychology behind MMORPGs

When I first started this game three months ago at the prompting, encouragement, and nagging of Maiev – I really had two purposes.

  1. To relax and spend the summer not working not studying (4yrs of a med-sci degree + all summers doing research or working = long deserved break).
  2. To find out what the draw of MMORPGs was, and to see what made my friends give up their Monday, Wednesday, Friday, AND Saturday nights away; and to think of possible research papers/essays/thesis I could come up with dealing with psychology and behaviour of the players in MMORPGs. I wanted to see how people portrayed themselves in pixelated form, and to see if certain phenomenons exhibited by people in real life were reflected in game.

Anyways, this post is about my second purpose… which I’m beginning to start thinking of more because of some events that have happened in game. I had thought it would be difficult to find academic papers and journals about these topics but to my surprise I found a goldmine of information in one page [1].

Nick Yee (soon to be Dr. Yee!) is working on his Ph.D at Stanford U in Communication studies with a focus on “Self-representation, and Social-interaction in Virtual Environments (MMORPGs)”. :) He is currently my idol. Not only can he play MMORPGs for school at university, he gets paid for it. It makes me question whether or not I should’ve taken more psychology courses in my undergrad! Read his papers and studies on his website to find out more about MMORPGs and whether or not it is a form of Addiction like alcohol, tobacco, and gambling, and to find out cool facts such as how the average gamer is a working 30 year old, and not a teenager!

For example, we now know a great deal about female players in MMORPGs. Female players are typically introduced to the environment by a romantic partner and are older than male players in MMORPGs. This means that female players are typically interacting with male players significantly younger than them and this must be taken into account when examining how male players and female players may perceive social interactions in the environment differently. The data on motivations showed that female players participate in these environments for reasons fairly different than those of male players. Female players are more likely to use the MMORPG environment to build supportive social networks, escape from reallife stress and to be immersed in a fantasy world. Female players do form stronger friendships than male players, but female players are not significantly more emotionally invested in the environment than male players. The overall picture is that female players, even though they tend to be older than male players and are motivated by entirely different reasons, find the same appeal and derive the same emotional salience and impact from these online environments.

Yee, N. (2006). The Demographics, Motivations and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively-Multiuser Online Graphical Environments. PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 15, 309-329.

(Article in PDF [2]form.) If you have TIME, download and read. Very fascinating.

I guess in the future I’d like to study the femininity of the avatars from MMORPGs. Some ideas in mind: a) to see how the social hierarchy of females is applicable to a virutal environment such as FFXI, 2) to see how females represent themselves in a virtual environment; using a virtual environment to project false images of themselves 3) to see how females are valued in a MMORPG; how they interact with males, and if they are using their femaleness to their advantage.