Study: Want to Make a Friend for Life? Play WoW

Study: Want to Make a Friend for Life?

8/15/2007 7:40:23 AM

New
research from Nottingham Trent University shows what many gamers
already know: gamers are actually quite social individuals. The new
study found that many individuals playing MMORPGs such as World of
Warcraft become good friends with almost half meeting in real life.
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While the stereotype of the pathetic, lonely gamer sitting in
his basement persists among some members of the media, there are some
who have begun to recognize the social importance of gaming. With the
advent of online gaming, and especially massively multiplayer titles,
the social aspects of gaming are more important now than ever.

A new study out of the U.K.’s Nottingham Trent University
would seem to reinforce the social value of MMOs. The study looked at
almost 1,000 online gamers from across the world and ultimately found
that "gamers make good friends with the people they meet in their
virtual worlds, with almost half meeting in real-life situations and
one in ten going on to develop physical relationships."

The complete study, Social Interactions in Massively
Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers, will be published in the U.S.
journal CyberPsychology and Behavior.

The study also found that
the average number of hours played per week was 22.85, and
unsurprisingly the most popular MMORPG was Blizzard’s World of
Warcraft, which already has a massive subscriber base of over 9
million. Nearly 50 percent of participants in the study named WoW their
favorite game.

Other interesting findings included:

  •     * More than 30 percent of participants found themselves attracted to another player.
  •     * 40 percent choose to discuss sensitive issues with online friends rather than their real-life friends.
  •     * One in five participants believed that MMORPGs had a negative
    effect on their relationships if their partner was not a player, while
    more than two-thirds felt they had a positive effect on their
    relationships with those who did play.
  •    
    * Females were significantly more likely than males to be attracted to
    other players, and were far more likely to go on to date them.
  •     *
    Most females gave ‘therapeutic refreshment’ as their main reason for
    playing, whereas most males stated ‘curiosity, astonishment and
    interest’ as reasons.
  •     * Roughly one third of gamers reported they could be ‘more themselves’ in the game than in real life.


"This
study has revealed many aspects of MMORPGs that were not known before.
Previous research has suggested that gamers are socially inactive, but
MMORPGs are actually extremely social games, with high percentages of
gamers making life-long friends and even partners," commented Professor
Mark Griffiths, from Nottingham Trent University’s School of Social
Sciences. "As well as making good friends online, 81% of gamers play
with real-life friends and family, suggesting MMORPGs are by no means
an asocial activity, nor are the players socially introverted."

"The virtual world that these games offer, allow players to
express themselves in ways they may not feel comfortable doing in real
life because of their appearance, gender, sexuality, age, or other
factors," he added. "They also offer a place where teamwork,
encouragement and fun can all be experienced."

by James Brightman

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