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Parallel Universes: MMOG and RL Technology Symposium McGill University, Montreal June 9, 2006 Jane Foo Contact

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Presentation on theme: "Parallel Universes: MMOG and RL Technology Symposium McGill University, Montreal June 9, 2006 Jane Foo Contact"— Presentation transcript:

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

2 Introduction 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 ending social structures and communities that are complex and constantly evolve massive multiplayer monthly / bimonthly fee for access to servers

3 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 you’re simply interested in fantasy or sci-fi, there are accomplished narratives like the Baldur’s Gate series or Knights of the Old Republic. But what those games can’t offer is a role in the complex and evolving set of living social structures. In MMOGs, you’ll 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)

4 History of MMOGs 1997: Ultima Online 1998: Lineage 1999: Everquest, Asheron’s Call Unrestrained Growth; MMORPGs only “online game revenues will grow from $277 million to $1.9 billion by 2002” (Forrester Research) The Golden Age (Jan. 1997 – April 2001) The Age of Transition (May 2001 – April 2002) The Age of Competition (May 2002 – Oct. 2004 ) 1996: Meridian 59 coined “massively multiplayer”; Kingdom of the Winds 2001: Dark Ages of Camelot, Anarchy Online, World War II Online Significant Slowing of Growth; New MMORPGs; New MMOG Genres 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)

5 Subscription Numbers MMOGMonthly Subscribers Lineage I and II (NCsoft)4 million Ragnorak Online (Gravity Interactive) (*The game became so popular in Thailand… it prompted the government implementing of a temporary curfew on late-night MMOG playing.) supposedly well over 2 million in South Korea alone World of Warcraft (Blizzard)2 million Everquest I and II (Sony)732,000 Final Fantasy XI (Square Enix)550,000 Star Wars Galaxies (Sony)255,000 Dark Ages of Camelot (Mythic)175,000 Ultima Online (EA)157,000 City of Heroes (NCsoft)140,000 Toontime Online (Disney)100,000 This was back in June 2005…

6 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 Woodcock’s MMOGChartMMOGChart

7 Demographics Average age: 26 (only 25% are teenagers) Gender: 85% are male; ratio of men and women 5:1  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 gender-bend 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)Daedalus Project - Demographics

8 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%, N=2328) of EQ players would consider themselves addicted to EQ.“

9 (Nicholas Yee, Daedalus Project – Player Polls on 3 Issues)Daedalus Project – Player Polls on 3 Issues

10 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 non-gamers.“ (Slashdot,

11 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 life Constance Steinkuehler: Online games as “third places” ►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? MMOG Research: gamers, subscription numbers, profit and market share, economic studies. Media: specific anecdotes and hair-raising stories, drama versus

12 A Few Terms … 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.EQMMORPG ( 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.MMORPG ( 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. (

13 Method Source: EQ Daily Grind Blog ( March 2004 – May 2006 Non-facilitated stories Request for Re-Posting (after making the stories anonymous Selection Bias? Question of Objectivity in MMOG Research Limitations: Size, Locale, Information Glut

14 Access Statistics

15 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

16 Posting Statistics 207 blog posts between March 2004 and May 12, 2006. 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 existence.

17 Poster Demographic: Gender

18 Poster Demographics: Marital Status

19 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)

20 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)

21 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)

22 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

23 General Observations Gender Differences Time “not there” => 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

24 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

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

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