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Parallel Universes: MMOG and RL


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Title: Parallel Universes: MMOG and RL

Parallel Universes MMOG and RL
  • Technology Symposium
  • McGill University, Montreal
  • June 9, 2006
  • Jane Foo
  • Contact Info
  • http//
  • Phone 416-491-5050 x2011
  • IM senlibjane (Yahoo),

  • MMOGs Massively Multi-Player Online Games.
  • MMORPG Massively Multi-Player Online
    Role-Playing Games.
  • Characteristics
  • online
  • on company-owned / proprietary servers
  • persistent worlds (game state rarely resets), no
  • social structures and communities that are
    complex and constantly evolve
  • massive multiplayer
  • monthly / bimonthly fee for access to servers

Social Structures
  • What sets MMOGs apart from other games are their
    social structures and communities. If you just
    want to kill things and level up a character, you
    can play Diablo. If you just want to wander in a
    3D world, you can play Morrowind. If youre
    simply interested in fantasy or sci-fi, there are
    accomplished narratives like the Baldurs Gate
    series or Knights of the Old Republic. But what
    those games cant offer is a role in the complex
    and evolving set of living social structures. In
    Moms, youll find guilds, role-playing servers,
    warring factions, economic classes, crime rings,
    griefers, political groups, and even entire
    cities and nations.
  • (GameSpy, Tom Chick, Oct 24, 2003)

History of MMOGs
1996 Meridian 59 coined massively multiplayer
Kingdom of the Winds
The Golden Age (Jan. 1997 April 2001)
The Age of Transition (May 2001 April 2002)
The Age of Competition (May 2002 Oct. 2004 )
  • 1997 Ultima Online
  • 1998 Lineage
  • 1999 Everquest, Asherons Call
  • Unrestrained Growth
  • MMORPGs only
  • online game revenues will grow from 277 million
    to 1.9 billion by 2002 (Forrester Research)

2002 Final Fantasy XI 2003 PlanetSide, Lineage
II, Shadowbane, Star Wars Galaxies 2004 World of
Warcraft, Everquest2, City of Hereos 2005 Matrix
Online over 150 MMOG products in various stages
of development …. the market over the next few
years can support 20 games, probably less (DFC)
2001 Dark Ages of Camelot, Anarchy Online, World
War II Online Significant Slowing of Growth New
Subscription Numbers
This was back in June 2005…
Total Active Subscription numbers are estimated
to be just under 13 million (6.5 million alone
for World Of Warcraft)
For more information, see Bruce Woodcocks
  • Average age 26 (only 25 are teenagers)
  • Gender 85 are male ratio of men and women 51
  • Male players tend to be between 12 and 28, while
    female players tend to be between 23 and 40.
  • Men are 3-5 times more likely than women to
  • Occupation 50 are working, 22 are full-time
    students, 12 are working and/or going to school
    part-time, 10 are unemployed, 3 are
    home-makers, while 1 are retired.
  • Marital Status 36 are married 67 of men 43
    of women have children
  • 60 of female gamers and 16 of male gamers play
    with a romantic partner.
  • (Nicholas Yee, Daedalus Project - Demographics)

Time Played
  • Hours of Play per Week (Nick Yee)
  • The mean of the number of hours played per week
    was 21.9, and the median was 20. There were no
    gender differences.

Addiction (Nick Yee) About two-thirds (62.1,
N2328) of EQ players would consider themselves
addicted to EQ.
(Nicholas Yee, Daedalus Project Player Polls on
3 Issues)
Only 15 of Gamers are Internet Addicts?
  • "Jeffrey Parsons - a doctoral candidate from
    University of Iowa has recently conducted a
    research on MMORPG addiction….The study found
    that about 15 of gamers meet the criteria for
    Internet addiction as provided by Kimberly Young,
    a leading researcher in Internet addiction. Using
    more strict criteria, a minimum of at least 10
    of gamers met criteria for Internet addiction.
    Compared to national studies of Internet
    addiction, this numbers are somewhat elevated.
    However, given the sheer number of hours MMORPG
    gamers spend online (in comparison to the general
    population), even a 15 addiction rate is
    somewhat low. To illustrate the point, the
    college student spends 10 hours on the Internet
    per week. The average MMORPG gamer (addicted or
    not) spends 20-25 hours per week just playing
    MMORPGs, and an additional 10-15 hours per week
    in other Internet use. In other words, MMORPG
    players are spending 4x as much time online as
  • (Slashdot, http//

MMOG Research gamers, subscription numbers,
profit and market share, economic studies.
Media specific anecdotes and hair-raising
stories, drama
  • My focus is on the relationships in real
    life, not the addictiveness of the MMOGs.
  • Spending countless hours online in a virtual
    world cannot be discarded as a rare occurrence
    anymore. It has become a very common place.
  • MMOGs and real life can be perceived as separate
    worlds, competing for time in an individual's
  • Constance Steinkuehler Online games as third
  • ? So if these MMOGs are now taking the place of
    traditional third places such as pubs and
    churches, what does this mean for the third
    places in our physical environment? More
    importantly, how does this affect our work and
    home places?

A Few Terms …
Catassing Catassing is the process of
sequestering oneself at a computer and avoiding
other day-to-day activity in favor of advancing
one's character in a massively multiplayer online
game (MMOG) whose game design makes heavy use of
level treadmills or their logical
equivalents. (http//
  • Treadmill In real life, a treadmill is piece of
    exercise machinery where a person walks in place
    and a rotating belt acts as a moving floor. The
    principle is one of doing something constantly or
    repetitively and not really getting anywhere.
    This is the term used to describe levelling in EQ
    or any other MMORPG that requires repetitious
    work to only gain access to more of the same.
  • (http//

Poopsock An insult used to refer to an obsessive
MMORPG player who gains an unusually high number
of levels in one day. to obsessively and
excessively play a game, usually an MMORPG,
usually for hours on end and to the exclusion of
all other concerns. (http//www.urbandictionary.c
  • Source EQ Daily Grind Blog (http//eqdailygrind.b
  • March 2004 May 2006
  • Non-facilitated stories
  • Request for Re-Posting (after making the stories
  • Selection Bias?
  • Question of Objectivity in MMOG Research
  • Limitations Size, Locale, Information Glut

Access Statistics
Came From …
  • Google, links from other sites
  • Sample Recent Searches
  • divorce and everquest
  • how many people still play everquest
  • everquest addiction
  • world of warcraft addiction ruined my marriage
  • mmos ruined my life
  • boyfriend plays wow all the time
  • mmorpg effects on children
  • how many people still play everquest

Posting Statistics
  • 207 blog posts between March 2004 and May 12,
  • 119 were stories were suitable for analysis.
  • Comments were made on 44 of those stories, for a
    total of 206 (since May 2004).
  • Out of 143 requests sent out, 83 were approved
    (not a bad ratio?).
  • The rest of the stories were either emails sent
    directly to the blog or comments.
  • Only one email complained about the Web site's

Poster Demographic Gender
Poster Demographics Marital Status
Word Frequencies Online World
  • Terms Relating to MMOG
  • game (667)
  • eq/eq2/wow (396)
  • play (695)
  • computer (151)
  • online (86)
  • character (63)
  • 9.19 of all words (22384)
  • Terms Relating to Time
  • time (388)
  • hours/day/week/month/ year (769)
  • never (93)
  • dinner (29)
  • night/bedtime/bed (156)
  • morning/breakfast (24)
  • 6.52 of all words (22384)
  • Terms Relating to Online Activities
  • guild (42)
  • raid (34)
  • 0.34 of all words (22384)

Word Frequencies Offline World
  • Terms Relating to Real World
  • real (70)
  • reality (18)
  • life (178)
  • work/job (251)
  • home/house (181)
  • school/college (57)
  • 3.37 of all words (22384)
  • Terms Relating to Relationships
  • famil (95)
  • kid/child/son/daughter (133)
  • husband/wife (188)
  • marriage (95)
  • relationship (46)
  • girlfriend / boyfriend (59)
  • divorce (24)
  • together (63)
  • alone (43)
  • single (19)
  • friend (131)
  • 4 of all words (22384)

Word Frequencies Other
  • Terms Relating to Problematic Play
  • addict (204)
  • problem (57)
  • quit (62)
  • EQA (12)
  • 1.5 of all words (22384)
  • Miscellaneous Terms
  • sleep (51)
  • talk (84)
  • help/advice (78)
  • world (73)

Recurring Themes
  • Returning gamer, partner introduced MMOG, never
    played videogames before
  • Non-stop play before work, after work, non-stop
    all weekend, no dinner, skip work
  • Time wasted / nothing gained
  • Giving advice direct, consequences, pleading
  • Looking for support validation (I thought I
    was crazy)
  • Escape, sense of power and achievement
  • Financial problems, health issues, job loss,
    depression, betrayal, uneven workload
  • Lack of sleep, social isolation, constant
    thoughts about the game

General Observations
  • Gender Differences
  • Time not there gt MMOG as Third Places
  • Neglect of family and change of mood
  • Reflection and realization of loss of time
    no-gain leads to reduction or ending of MMOG play

Conclusions About the Blog
  • Readers will empathize with posts even if they
    are anonymous
  • Gamers and ex-gamers do not feel threatened by
    the stories but want to help explain and help
    others understand
  • It is possible to have an online community / blog
    for gamers, family members and ex-gamers
  • Ex-Gamers generally agree that the games took
    them away from the rest of their lives and are
    willing to take responsibility for the impact on
    their families

  • Ariadne - Understanding MMORPG Addiction
    (Nicholas Yee) http//
  • Daedalus Project (Nicholas Yee) http//www.nickyee
  • DFC Intelligence Game Industry
    Research http//
  • International Game Developers Association Online
    Games SIG http//
  • Massively Multiplayer Online Games The Past, The
    Present, and The Future. http//
  • MMOGs http//
  • MMOG Research by Constance A. Steinkuehler https/
  • (Bruce Sterling Woodcock) http//www
  • Social Study Games http//
  • Terra Nova http//