MMORPG Avatars 1 Running head: MMORPG AVATARS AND THEIR PLAYERS

The Correlation between Customizable Avatars in World of Warcraft and the Personality of the Players Zach Peppler Academic Magnet

MMORPG Avatars 2 6 December 2010 Table of Contents
Table of Contents.......................................................................................................2 Abstract......................................................................................................................3 CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION........................................................................................4 Rationale.................................................................................................................4 Statement of the Problem.......................................................................................5 Method....................................................................................................................5 Research Questions.................................................................................................5 Implications.............................................................................................................5 Significance.............................................................................................................6 Continued Applicability............................................................................................6 CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF LITERATURE..........................................................................8 History of Role Playing Games.................................................................................8 Motivation .............................................................................................................12 The Players............................................................................................................21 CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY....................................................................................24 Procedure..............................................................................................................24 CHAPTER IV: PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS...............................................................26 Appendices...............................................................................................................31 References...............................................................................................................37

MMORPG Avatars 3 Abstract This thesis determines if there is a correlation between customizable avatars in MMORPGs, such as World of Warcraft, and their players’ personality. MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game, which means a large online only fantasy game. The purpose of this thesis is to discover whether this correlation exists. A survey was created and posted on the forums on World of Warcraft in order for players to respond to it. Players were asked to fill out the survey and these participants were experienced with the game. Over 100 players responded to this survey. Their responses were not enough to determine whether or not the thesis is true or not, and further research needs to be done. However, the implication of this thesis can create a massive effect on these genres if proven true. Blizzard, creator of World of Warcraft, has even released a personality test to determine class from player personality.

MMORPG Avatars 4 CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION Rationale In 2009, over two billion dollars were spent on one of the most rapidly growing and newest videogame trends, the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) (Today’s Gamers, 2010). One billion of that was spent purely on the monthly fees (Today’s Gamers, 2010). The player base of this genre has been growing exponentially since the release of the first modern MMORPG. In September of 1996, 3DO released Meridian 59, the first modern MMORPG (Barton, 2008). It introduced a new genre to the videogame world. This new genre has attracted millions of players. The most popular of these is World of Warcraft, which has a 12 million player basis on its own (Woodcock, n.d.). Many studies have been done in order to determine what motivates MMORPG players to spend hours and dollars to continue their play. Yee has created a ten factor model of player motivation based on surveys posted on forums of popular MMORPGs (Williams, Yee, & Caplan, 2008). These show how players are motivated in the game. Most of these focus on players who have experience in MMORPGs, but does not include any information on newcomers to the genre and what keeps them playing. Other studies have been conducted based on gender differences and the text of the quests in World of Warcraft to determine if these affect gameplay (DiGiuseppe & Nardi, 2007; Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley, 2009; Yee, 2008). DiGiuseppe and Nardi (2007) interviewed players who have been in World of Warcraft for some time and have experience in the game mechanics. The study on the text of the quests in the game is very important because, when new players start the game, a NPC greets them and sends them on a quest for a simple task that starts their journey in World of Warcraft. There is still a key component each study is missing. This is: if the creation of the first avatar, or character, affects the new player in any way. Avatar creation for experienced players is highly

MMORPG Avatars 5 contemplated because they know the game and which race and class combination will best suit the goal they intend to reach with said avatar. However, no research has been done to determine whether or not the initial choices of race and/or class affect new players or motivate them further to play and immerse themselves in the most successful MMORPG on the market. Statement of the Problem The problem that this thesis addressed wass whether or not the degree of customization of avatars affects new players based on personality. However, the customization options for this thesis did not include aesthetics that only affect how the character looks; this includes gender. The aesthetical customization options do not affect endgame because they do not affect the character in any way other than looks. The governing question of this thesis is: Is there a correlation between the races and classes in World of Warcraft and the personality of the players? Method This problem was researched through a survey. It was posted on the World of Warcraft forums for any and all users to have access to. This survey tried to determine the reason behind player choices for race and classes Research Questions Questions addressed in this thesis are: 1. What is an MMORPG? 2. How is it different from other videogame genres? 3. Who plays them and why?
4. What personality types do the races and classes in World of Warcraft represent?

Implications

MMORPG Avatars 6 This thesis was inconclusive; therefore, it is difficult to determine the implications of it. However, if it is found true, it can be used to help designers create games that put the players in a more important position than before. Also, this thesis could work hand-in-hand with previous studies, such as those of Nick Yee, to find out what attracts 12 million players to one game. Significance This thesis can aid game designers on how effective customization and personality affect the avatar of the game and how much time the player spends in the game. This is important because these games can be confusing when a player first starts. For the first avatar created, a personality test may aid the new players, maybe even long time players, to avoid the confusion and be able to play the game a little better. It is not only significant to World of Warcraft, but also to any other MMORPG on the market with customizable avatars that affect the game. Most MMORPGs have an avatar creation, so this research can also apply to other MMORPGs and even other videogame genres that use playable avatars. However, World of Warcraft has undergone major changes soon with the third expansion pack World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (Blizzard, 2010). Designers could use this thesis in order to better aid new players in the creation of their first avatar. Continued Applicability This thesis could be used not only for other videogame genres, also, but in educational fields. Even though MMORPGs are a major portion of the video game market, other genres use customizable avatars. Most games with avatars have customization options that affect how the players play the game. As technology progresses, these customizable avatars can be applied to educational fields. For instance, online study guides could use these avatars in order to better aid the student to absorb the knowledge given. Thus, this should be studied for other purposes

MMORPG Avatars 7 because MMORPGs have been extremely popular in the past 14 years. If the main aspects of socialization and teamwork are taken from MMORPGs and applied into educational fields, many difficult lessons could be taught through simply playing a videogame with friends and classmates.

MMORPG Avatars 8 CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF LITERATURE Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) have become extremely popular in the last decade. They have outsold classic console games and continue to bring in revenue after the initial sale. This review of literature will cover the history of not only MMORPGs, but also of Role Playing Games (RPGs), in general. It is essential to know the history of RPGs because it gives background knowledge of how MMORPGs have become a world-wide phenomenon. Because these games are so popular, this literature review will cover motivations to play these games. This is just as important as knowing the history because it adds why people play to what they are. Not only is it significant to know what and why but also to know who plays. This literature review will cover that by researching studies and demographics created by previous researchers. This is important because it will discuss what these games are, why they are popular and who plays them. History of Role Playing Games Before RPGs, many gamers played tabletop sports games released in the 1960s and 1970s, which introduced many elements that are visible even in today’s games (Barton, 2008). This included using “dice and statistics to more realistic model fantasies” (Barton, 2008, pp. 1415). This technique is used to simulate the randomness of reality. For example, rolling a six could be a grand slam while rolling a one could be a strike; it is impossible to determine what will happen until it happens. Tabletop sport games evolved into tabletop wargames (Barton, 2008). These were not only used to play out possibilities in times of war, but also simulated war itself for leisurely activities (Barton, 2008). Many of these games “involved both dice and an experienced officer who could umpire the game based on his own combat experience (much as a Dungeon Master presides over D&D play)” (Barton, 2008, p.16). Soon these games quit

MMORPG Avatars 9 mimicking battles of World War II and began to mimic medieval themes of knights, dragons, and castles. Chainmail was the first wargame to, literally, go medieval and many of its fantastical elements were derived from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Barton, 2008). Much of Tolkien’s work, mainly the Lord of the Rings trilogy, inspired the archetypal races of RPGs, including elves, dwarves, orcs, and hobbits (Barton, 2008). Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson combined Chainmail and the fantasy elements from Lord of the Rings to create the original Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game, published by Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) (Barton, 2008). This was the first RPG because the players would take on the role of one character instead of an entire army. Before players could start the game, they must choose a class for their character. The character would progress through a dungeon designed by the Dungeon (or Game) Master and gain experience points by killing monsters (Barton, 2008). After a set amount of experience is gained, the character will gain one level. By leveling up, a character can fight bigger monster, learn new spells and abilities, and be able to progress further through the dungeon (Barton, 2008). Dawn of the Computer RPG Once computers were accessible to game designers, many types of games have been created from simple text based games to enormous worlds full of life. In 1975, Will Crowther created the first computer RPG (CRPG) known as Colossal Cave Adventure (Barton, 2008). It is completely text based and commands are given in simple two word responses (Barton, 2008). Since computers were only available to colleges and the wealthy, this game and others similar to it remained unknown to the masses and played only by dedicated fans and experienced D&D players (Barton, 2008). Colossal Cave Adventure was more on the lines of a “new interactive fiction” than an RPG due to the fact that there were certain commands that must be met (Barton,

MMORPG Avatars 10 2008, p. 25). The first true CPRG came with the introduction of the PLATO system (Barton, 2008). However, CRPGs went underground at this time because creating them on this system was strictly forbidden. Many great games have been lost, such as the lost pedit5 game (Barton, 2008). pedit5 was the first documented CRPG created by Rusty Rutherford. Unfortunately, it was found and deleted like most CRPGs of this time, although, it did teach programmers “to keep hard copies” of their games (Barton, 2008, p. 31). Before the sale of personal computers (PCs), there were three types of CRPGs available: wireframe graphics, text based graphics, and interactive fiction (Barton, 2008). Once PCs hit the home, the CRPG was soon to follow and expand into a legal business. The most popular CRPG became the Ultima series; its MMORPG version still has 100,000 subscribers (Barton, 2008). Ultima III was the most popular of this series because it was the first to use solid graphics instead of wireframe (Barton, 2008). Also, Ultima III has an excellent sound system for its time and much more stable dungeons (Barton, 2008). The game has a four person party system and turn-by-turn based combat system (Barton, 2008). It was “a smash hit, selling some 120,000 copies” (Barton, 2008, p. 69). This was the first CRPG to reach this type of fame and it was mainly due to the availability of the home computer. Rise of the MMORPG CRPGs were a fast growing industry and immensely popular due to the release of SSI’s Gold Box; however, most of these games continued to be single player with one character or a party. Beyond Software created a new innovation within the CRPG genre by combining the game play of CRPGs to the social aspects of MUDs to create the first MMORPG, known as Neverwinter Nights (Barton, 2008). It was based on the Gold Box engine and was hosted on AOL from 1991 to 1997 and “became one of AOL’s key attractions” (Barton, 2008, p. 160).

MMORPG Avatars 11 Like the MUDs before it, the MMORPG was focused on the social aspect of connecting players from around the world via one game. Neverwinter Nights introduced a new type of guild system that is different than the previous version (Barton, 2008). The guilds of an MMORPG are groups of players banded together to reach a common goal. This is an essential part of any popular MMORPG; however, the guild system can also be referred to as a clan or a legion depending on the game. It was not until 1996 was the first modern MMORPG released, known as Meridian 59 (Barton, 2008). It was the first RPG to only be able to be played online (Barton, 2008). MMORPG not only incorporated online play but also included a massive world “capable of supporting thousands or even hundreds of thousands of concurrent users” (Barton, 2008, p. 400). With the release of the first modern MMORPG, CPRG designers created games that required socializing in an abstract world with no limits on what a player can do, similarly to the original tabletop RPGs (Barton, 2008). However, MMORPGs did not become popular until the release of the popular Ultima Online (UO) one year later (Barton, 2008). UO was the first MMORPG to hit 100,000 subscribers and created the foundations for the fledgling genre (Barton, 2008). Even though UO was successful, it had yet to catch mainstream attention, but a new game did, called EverQuest (EQ) (Barton, 2008). This game was truly massive and lacked the bugs and issues of previous games (Barton, 2008). EQ held server sizes of 24,000 averages and were nearly lag free (Barton, 2008). Also, EQ focused on co-operative play rather than player-versus-player (PvP) and it allowed players to “[meet] new friends and [adventure] together” similarly to D&D (Barton, 2008, p. 404). In 2004, the most famous MMORPG to date was released, World of Warcraft (Barton, 2008). World of Warcraft not only “stands in a class by itself” when comparing MMORPGs, but also is one of the most, if not most, popular video games released (Barton, 2008). Blizzard has outdone itself again by creating a game of such immense popularity

MMORPG Avatars 12 and has defined what true MMORPGs with its long five year reign over the genre (Barton, 2008). Motivation The sudden rise in popularity of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games has created a need to create a model about what motivates players to be able to play these games for the time they do. In 1979, Trubshaw and Bartle created the first MUD (Multiuser Dungeon) (Barton, 2008). Bartle, later on, went to define the motivations behind playing the game. The four player types included: Achievers, Explorer, Socializers, and Killers (Yee, 2006a). Achievers focus on obtaining points and rising in levels (Bartle, 1996). Explorers travel throughout the game in order to find rare, out-of-the-way places in order to learn the internal programming (Bartle, 1996). Socializers use the game as a “backdrop” to meet new people and converse with them (Bartle, 1996, para. 22). Finally, Killers are intent only on killing other characters in the game and “are people of few words” (Bartle, 1996, para. 25). One of Bartle’s factors is the dominant factor to playing MUDs (1996). The other three factors would be used only to fulfill the main goal (Bartle, 1996). According to Bartle, a combination of these factors is not feasible (Bartle, 1996). Yee questions the Bartle model of motivations for Multi-User Domain (MUD) players because it made every person classified into four types of players and did not allow for mobility between the roles (2006a). In order “to resolve these weaknesses and build a more solid foundation for understanding player motivations,” Yee created a “list of 40 questions that related to player motivations” (2006a, para. 12) which he created a survey from and placed on various forums for viewers to answer. Yee’s original model included five factors, Achievement, Manipulation, Escapism, Relationship and Immersion (2006b). He created this model based on research started in 2003. His surveys were posted on gaming forums that were for “Ultima

MMORPG Avatars 13 Online, EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot and Star Wars Galaxies” which consisted of “75% of the North American MMORPG market with active subscribers” (2006b, p. 14). In this study, Yee found that Relationship scored the highest out of the five while Manipulation scored the lowest (Yee, 2006b). Yee revisited the information he received from the surveys and created a new model (Yee, 2006a). His new model included Achievement, Social, and Immersion as the main components for playing MMORPGs (2006a). The subcomponents for Achievement included: Advancement, Mechanics and Competition. Advancement players were more focused on leveling up, becoming powerful, killing monsters, reaching impossible goals and/or becoming wealthy in the game (Yee, 2006a). Mechanics players wanted to understand how the game worked, more specifically its programming, mathematical equations, and using that to progress through the game (Yee, 2006a). Players rated highly in Competition enjoyed “competition with other gamers on the battlefield” (para. 18) and also enjoyed being victorious in their encounters (Yee, 2006a). The Social component of Yee’s report included the following subcomponents: Socializing, Relationship, and Teamwork (Yee, 2006a). Socializing players enjoyed the community of the games, as in meeting new people and talking to them. Relationship players created bonds with fellow players in the game and treated them much like real life (RL) friends. Teamwork players enjoyed “working and collaborating with others” (Yee, 2006a, para. 21). The final component in Yee’s report was Immersion, which included: Discovery, Role-Playing, Customization, and Escapism (2006a). Discovery players learn as much as they could about the game and information not many other players were aware of (Yee, 2006a). Role-playing players enjoyed creating a story around their character and did everything they could to further integrate their character into the game itself. Players rated highly in Customization made their characters

MMORPG Avatars 14 look as unique as possible by collecting armor and rare items (Yee, 2006a). Players rated highly in Escapism used the game to become free from the trials and tribulations of real life. Yee found using these motivations that Role-Playing was the highest while Escapism was the lowest (Yee, 2006a). Also, he compared how male and female characters were motivated differently (Yee, 2006a). The Achievement component overall was more prominent in males than females, while the Relationship subcomponent was more prominent in females (Yee, 2006a). The main difference between this model and Bartle’s is that Bartle’s model theorizes that a player acts as an Achiever so he would not be a Socializer, when in fact the Achiever component can be scored higher than Socializer but that does not limit the player from socializing ever in these games. Examples of Motivational Factors World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs have the players create characters in order to level through the game and, eventually, enter large raids with other players in order to kill the bosses inside and claim their treasures. This process can be seen as a hero’s journey (Krzynwinska, 2005). World of Warcraft is its own world, or worlds, in which the characters embark on simple tasks at first but quickly gain renown to perform much more difficult task. Much of it is built upon its predecessors the Warcraft series. The worlds in the World of Warcraft are immense with many races, each containing their own myths, ideals, and culture (Krzynwinska, 2005). It can easily draw players into the world and further motivate them to continue, just as the popular Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien had for its readers (Krzynwinska, 2005). An example of this that Krzywinska pointed out was a quest in Tanaris for any player around level 40 located at the Steamwheedle Port (2005). A troll tells the players about an ancient god that once ruled the world stating:

MMORPG Avatars 15 The ancient prophecy of Mosh’aru speaks of a way to contain the god Hakkar’s essence. It was written on two tablets and taken to the troll city of Zul’Farrak, west of Gadgetzan. Bring me the Mosh’aru tablets. The first tablet is held by the long dead troll Theka the Martyr. It is said his persecutors were cursed into scarabs and now scuttle from his shrine. The second is held by the hydromancer Velratha, near the sacred pool of Gahz’rilla. When you have the tablets bring them to me (Blizzard Entertainment, 2010). This shows the depth of mythology and lore that is in just one quest, and most quest have a similar writing style, giving players a deep sense of awe while reading the quest texts (Krzywinska, 2005). It also is an example of a few of the factors that Yee developed, mainly under the Immersion component (Yee, 2006a). The playable races, along with those unavailable to play, can all be traced to an ancient race that is long lost or an archetypal fantasy race, such as the Night Elves (Krzywinska, 2005). Not only is the race itself reminiscent of Tolkien’s elven race, but also is the landscape in which Night Elves normally dwell in (Krzywinska, 2005). The Night Elves are similar to Tolkien’s elves because “they are an ancient race with an affinity with nature and regard themselves superior to others, even though their civilization has been reduced by war and home-grown degeneration” (Krzywinska, 2005, para. 13). The race and similarity to other races of fantasy and mythology can create more motivation to play because players can relate what they are playing as to something they read about. Littered over the landscape of Night Elven lands are ruins of lost temples and cities, some are inhabited by unfriendly race of the Naga (Krzywinska, 2005). Ruins evoke a mysterious awe that inspires and allows people to ponder of the former glory of the location (Krzywinksa, 2005). This is a clear connection to the real world when archaeologists discover new ruins and try to depict their ancient splendor (Krzywinska, 2005). Characters that are created by players start out as novices seeking to aid

MMORPG Avatars 16 their race and alliance. As they level up, explore new places, and meet new people, they go on a hero’s quest (Krzynwinska, 2005). With the last few major updates, Blizzard has made this clear that the characters are in fact heroes because many non-player characters (NPCs) call the players heroes and admire them for their bravery (Blizzard Entertainment, 2010). The quests in MMORPGs are essential parts of the game. They are the most efficient method of leveling a character and provide capital and item rewards (Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley). Quests provide insight to the motives behind why the player is performing these tasks and can teach the player something about quest givers, the motives behind their request, and what their culture is. The quests that players undertake affect how the players experience the game (Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley, 2009). For example, in World of Warcraft, Alliance players fight against Horde players in a player-versus-player (PvP) area known as Warsong Gulch in order to preserve an ancient forest from the Horde’s deforestation (Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley, 2009). On the other hand, Horde players battle against Alliance players because the “Horde is suffering a resource shortage” and “thus possibly has a superior justification for harvesting the forest than does the Alliance for preserving it” (Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley, 2009, p. 3). Due to “the notably different cultural values and factional relationships for players based on their initial choice of aligning with the Horde or the Alliance,” Landwehr, Diesner, and Carley (2009, p. 4) researched the frequency of certain words in the quest text. Afterward, they compared them faction-wise: Horde, Alliance or Both (Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley, 2009). Their research showed that there was a connection between how the races functions and what the quests actually say (2009). Many words were used so frequently between the factions that many quest texts were used between all three factions (Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley, 2009). In their researched, Landwehr, Diesner, and Carley found that the name of the player, noted as Player in

MMORPG Avatars 17 their research, was the most used term (2009). Landwehr, Diesner, and Carley, also, searched for frequently used words on “seven different event terms that can be used to connote violence,” and compared the percentages between the three factions available (2009, p. 6). The word kill was the most used term to connote violence which the Horde used the most often (Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley, 2009). Landwehr, Diesner, and Carley (2009) used a similar method to compare terms that are factional; however, this search resulted again with the Horde using more factional terms, but the gap in percentages was much larger. Even though the Alliance has more quests available than the Horde, the Horde is more “aggressive and more concerned with factional identifications than are members of the Alliance” based on the text of the quests (Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley, 2009, p. 9). This means that players of the Horde can be motivated differently than players of the Alliance. Horde players can be more motivated by Yee’s Competition factor and Advancement factor because they would want to fight players of the Alliance more often and would be more motivated to attain better gear in order to accomplish this (Yee, 2006a). On the other hand, Alliance players might be more motivated by a combination of other factors because the keywords for the second and third searches had nearly similar percentages (Landwehr, Diesner, & Carley, 2009). According to Gunkel and Gunkel (2009), MMORPGs can be seen as a terra nova, a new world. Role-playing players enjoyed creating a story around their character and did everything they could to further integrate their character into the game itself. In 1492, Columbus discovered the New World for the Europeans which they later arrived at to colonize. MMORPGs can be seen as a New World because they are largely unexplored and unknown to the players who are just starting (Gunkel & Gunkel, 2009). They can also be a new frontier to Americans because the frontier was closed when most of the land west of the Mississippi had been settled (Gunkel &

MMORPG Avatars 18 Gunkel, 2009). This idea meshes well together with Yee’s model because players who score high in Discovery could see MMORPGs as a new and endless frontier that can be conquered (Gunkel & Gunkel, 2009; Yee, 2006a). To others, it may also be a chance to become pioneers who venture out into the unknown and gamble for a better life in another place (Gunkel & Gunkel, 2009). This would best relate to Yee’s Role-Playing factor because players would put themselves in the shoes of the avatar to “[integrate] their character into the larger ongoing story of the world” (Yee, 2006a, para. 24). Gender of Players in Game and Real Life The gender of players and their characters can affect how they play and what they play. DiGiuseppe and Nardi asked 47 players from World of Warcraft what class they played and why (2007). They based their study on “common stereotypes about character choices in World of Warcraft” (DiGiuseppe & Nardi, 2007, para. 4). The female stereotypes included: “supportive roles, especially healing,” standing back in a fight, and preferring to play cloth wearing characters (DiGiuseppe & Nardi, 2007, para. 5). The male stereotypes were battling “monsters close up,” and preferring characters that wear strong armor (DiGiuseppe & Nardi, 2007, para. 5). DiGiuseppe and Nardi (2007) interviewed a select batch of players either face-to-face, online chat, or voice chat, and each was recorded. They found that males and females are motivated to play a class for the same reason both between classes and within them (DiGiuseppe & Nardi, 2007). Also, men and women “often chose the same classes (druid, mage, priest),” and women rarely played “warriors, rogues, hunters and warlocks” (DiGiuseppe & Nardi, 2007, para. 27). However, females would play those classes after they had gained some experience with the game (DiGiuseppe & Nardi, 2007). Finally, males and females might choose to play one class because they see themselves as a real life version of the class (DiGiuseppe & Nardi, 2007). This

MMORPG Avatars 19 coincides really well with Yee’s Immersion factor because players would want to play more if they saw themselves as their character (Yee, 2006a). Furthering research on gender differences in MMORPGs, Yee (2008) researched the disproval of the common stereotype that men and women play different games. He continued to use the information he had been gathering for previous research projects, as well as, interview players, mostly female, about their experiences in MMORPGs and how they are discriminated against (Yee, 2008). Yee’s findings stated that females would most likely to play with a romantic partner and that it is rare for them to play of their own accord (2008). When women were to play on their own, however, many male players would either not believe they were alone, they were female, or they were incompetent and not very good players (Yee, 2008). One of Yee’s interviewees was “so sick and tired of being treated like a moron or hit on 24-7” that she created a male character just to seek some peace and quiet (Yee, 2008). Not only is there a rigid stereotype of female players, but also it is heavily enforced by male players who think women play for different reasons than men (Yee, 2008). However, Yee (2006a) reported that men and women play MMORPGs for nearly the same reason. He states that “the motivation with the largest statistical gender difference (Mechanics)” has an overlap “between men and women” that was 66% (Yee, 2008, p. 90). The general overlap for motivations between men and women was 87% (Yee, 2008). This means that all players are motivated by factors in Yee’s model regardless of gender. Can MMORPGs be addictive? The media continuously points out that video games, particularly MMORPGs, as being extremely addictive and there should be regulations. However, the media exploits “a lack of knowledge concerning online gaming,” and “has highlighted the addictive qualities these games

MMORPG Avatars 20 contain” (Henderson, 2008, p. 7). The media also has “extremely blown” gaming addiction “out of proportion through a lack of familiarity with the concept of a virtual world” (Henderson, 2008, p. 9). MMORPG players feel like they are suppressed by peers for playing these games (Henderson, 2008). Players feel like they are addicted even if they play for a few hours a day because they feel pressure from their peers (Henderson, 2008). He reported that people feel like MMORPGs are an addiction because they become immersed in the game because these games are so immense (Henderson, 2008; Krzywinska, 2005). Henderson studied people’s reactions to playing MMORPGs by locating to a public space that has a lot of traffic and playing World of Warcraft (Henderson, 2008). He found that “after an initial jeer” most people would either change the subject or “become focused on the game” (Henderson, 2008, p. 5). Some of Henderson’s watchers became curious about the game and even ask question on gameplay (Henderson, 2008). MMORPGs can be addictive, but it is unclear whether the addiction is real or just pressure from non-players. The addiction is only “as real as society makes it” (Henderson, 2008, p. 9). Since MMORPGs have some addictive qualities, Lee, Yu, and Ling researched gamers who previously quit playing and asked personal interviews as to the reasons behind quitting (2007). Each player had a motivation to play that coincided with one of Yee’s ten factors; however, the motivation to play would make the player quit or another motivation would work against a current motivation to allow the player to quit (Lee, Yu, & Lin, 2007). Players would become immersed in these games to the point where they would play for hours. This immersion would not only give the player a reason to continue but also a reason to quit (Lee, Yu, & Lin, 2007). For example, players will want to level up their characters, but they might “play for an entire day and only earn a few experience points” (Lee, Yu, & Lin, 2007, p. 213). Leveling is an

MMORPG Avatars 21 essential part of any MMORPG, but some MMORPGs take many hours, or in some cases days, to earn one level. This makes leveling one character an extremely daunting task and can make players feel like they wasted their time. The Social component of Yee’s model is the main factor that motivates most players because it is what separates MMORPGs from CRPGs and JPRGs (Yee, 2006a; Barton, 2008). Many players will continue to play MMORPGs for friends than the game (Barton, 2008); however, players who log on for this reason eventually feel like they have to log on, and the game becomes “a heavy social burden” (Lee, Yu, & Lin, 2007, p. 213). Lee, Yu and Lin interviewed a player who had used the MMORPG he was playing in order that he would not worry about his father who was ill (2007). This would coincide with Yee’s model mainly under the Escapism category. The Players The media stereotypically portrays a gamer as a male adolescent, who is very thin and pale, and spends much time indoors playing video games (Williams, Yee, & Caplan, 2008). However this is far from the truth, the actual age, gender, and physical appearance of a gamer is nothing like the media portrays (Williams, Yee, & Caplan, 2008). Williams, Yee, and Caplan posted a survey on a forum for players of Sony’s EverQuest II (EQ2) with questions regarding age, ethnicity, physical health and mental health (2008). The answers received from the survey were turned into demographical percentages and then compared to national percentages (Williams, Yee, & Caplan, 2008). Defining who the players are is an essential part of not only knowing who plays but also how game designers can better design games that focuses on what the player wants (Sotamaa, 2007). Some gaming companies are now including player input into their games (Sotamaa, 2007). According to Williams, Yee, and Caplan (2008), the average player of EQ2 was “31.16 years old,” Caucasian or Native American, “[comes] from wealthier

MMORPG Avatars 22 background than average,” are more educated, has no religious affiliation, and is more physically fit than average, but has lower mental health levels (p. 1002; p. 1003). The gender comparison was almost 80% male and 20% female; however, “female players play slightly more hours per week than male players” (Williams, Yee, & Caplan, 2008). Williams, Yee, and Caplan compared age groups to determine which age group had the most hours played per week (2008). Players over the age of 53 had the greatest number of average hours per week (30.59), while players under the age of 18 had the least (22.24), and the progression from youngest to oldest had nearly a steady increase (Williams, Yee, & Caplan, 2008). This study disproves the stereotypical gamer and replaces it with a varying player versed in other knowledge besides gaming. When designing games, companies have to keep in mind who is going to play this game; however, most rarely know who is playing. Professional game designers have often been claimed to have created games “designed games primarily for game designers themselves” (Sotamaa, 2007, p. 456). Sotamaa researched Game Design Literature in order to uncover how game designers address the players in design process or if they do at all (2007). Some books have players in a one chapter or section; while others only mention them when need be (Sotamaa, 2007). When game designers create games based on what players want, they create an “ideal player” that “is often produced by reducing players into a collection of needs and capabilities” (Sotamaa, 2007, p. 459). The most common ways companies will define their player base was to divide it into “novice players (newbies) and experts (experienced players)” (Sotamaa, 2007 p. 459). Newbies are usually more diverse and only play to have fun, but generally lack knowledge on game conventions (Sotamaa, 2007). Experts usually play these games for long hours, have a lot of knowledge on these games, and spend more on a game than a newby (Sotamaa, 2007).

MMORPG Avatars 23 This division exists to separate game types; in most cases, a newby will not play an expert game due to their lack of knowledge, and experts will not play newby games because they do not offer a challenge (Sotamaa, 2007).

MMORPG Avatars 24 CHAPTER III: METHODOLOGY Mixed methods, qualitative and quantitative, were used to gather data. This determined if there is a correlation between the initial choices of race and class in World of Warcraft. The qualitative study included an online survey that was posted on the World of Warcraft forums. Materials An online survey was available to any player of World of Warcraft. This survey asked questions that determined the reasoning behind the choices of race and class and if the player thinks that the overall and end game are affected by the initial choice of race and class and why. Procedure The online survey was collected during and after the experiment. It was accessible via the online forums of World of Warcraft. This was used to determine what experienced players think about race and class choices for the initial creation and if it affects gameplay and overall game experience. The researcher also broadcasted a link to the survey in a chat channel that most of his server was able to see in order to increase the amount of people participating in the survey. Due to the difficulty of finding players and the completely unexpected changes in Cataclysm, this experiment was changed from a variable/control type of experiment to a research study. Data Analysis The online survey results were tallied to determine whether or not the experienced players think that the initial choice of race and class affect the game. The main participants in the survey were experienced players on the researcher’s home server. It was posted for a while on the main for the entirety of the community to see. Results were analyzed in order to determine the reasoning behind choices for race and class of various characters. The survey also asked for player input on the idea of a personality test for new players. This would take into effect whether

MMORPG Avatars 25 current, experienced players think a personality test could aid new players and if race and class do make a difference, according to them.

MMORPG Avatars 26 CHAPTER IV: PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS Results Table 1 Do you still play your first character (not first 60/70/80)? Yes No 52 46 53.1% 46.1%

Table 2 What affected your initial choices for race and class? (Multiple responses were allowed) Aesthetics Advice from a fellow player Previous Experience from other MMORPGS Limit race choice from class Refer a friend Other

53 24 16 15 4 24

54.1% 24.5% 16.3% 15.3% 4.1% 24.5%

Table 3 Have you made any changes to your first character (as in faction change, race change, etc.)? Yes 22 No 76

22.4% 77.6%

Table 4 Do you think if new players took a personality test to determine the best combination for race and class they would fare better with their first character? Yes 43 43.9% No 55 56.1%

Table 5 Do you think race and class make a difference in the game? Yes 85 No 13

86.7% 13.3%

MMORPG Avatars 27 Table 6 When you create a new character, what affects your decision for race and class? (Multiple responses were allowed) PvP Utilization 28 28.6% Raid Integration 45 45.9% Easier to group as 14 14.3% Easier to solo as 17 17.3% Grouping and soloing 33 33.7% Lack of class in guild/guild raids 17 17.3% Trying something new 65 66.3% Area for race 20 20.4% Other 17 17.3%

Explanation of Findings These are the results of a six question essay that is posted on the forums of World of Warcraft. At of this, over 100 players have responded to it. The questions are aimed at players that have experience with one character. The first question, whether players still play their first character, is one of the most important in this survey. The second question is a follow-up to it. Most players do play their original character and have not changed anything to it. Aesthetics is the major reason that the players chose their first class and race while the Refer-A-Friend service is the lowest. Almost all agree that race and class do affect the game in some manner. The fourth question indicates that the majority of players do not think a personality test to aid new players with their first character will aid the new players. Question six asks players about what they look for in a new character after the first. Most want to try something new.

MMORPG Avatars 28 CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION The results of the survey show that most players still play their original character and agree that race and class do affect the game. This means that while the majority of players went on looks for their first characters, they do see the importance that race and class have in the game. However, the impact of aesthetics is too unclear. It could either pertain to how the race looks with the class or just how the race looks. Upon creating a new character, players are given a class and race description. So it is possible that they like how they original made the character to play their race or just how the race looked. Most players, also, do not think giving a personality test to new players will aid them. This seems odd because most see the importance of race and class. However this could be due to how characters develop as a player plays them more. Question six’s results show almost twothirds of players want to try something new when they make a new character but they do not focus on how the new character will perform in a group environment. Players might want to learn how to use the new character in a solo environment before joining with other players. They may feel that taking a personality test decreases the novelty of experimenting with the unknown. Rapid integration is also important to players when making a new character. This may both contradict and support may hypothesis. On one hand, some players may out race and class when choosing a character, and think about how they will be able to be better in their groups for difficult content. On the other hand players might try a new race or class to fit in a raid. They might find something that fits into their personality better because they are willing to do something to integrate better into their raids. Willingness to do whatever it takes to help others could reflect how they think and act outside the game. This idea supports the thesis.

MMORPG Avatars 29 This subject needs further research. At this point, this paper does not fulfill the question posed by my thesis; however, the researcher does have plans to continue this study. This study does fit into previous models for motivations to play MMORPGs. Mostly the one created by Yee; however, it does not fit into a specific factor. This study fills in the gap of trying to find a connection between players and their characters. A subfactor in Yee’s study is the customization of a character through armor acquired in the game in which the player is in (William, Yee, & Caplan, 2008). However, Yee’s study does not link the race and class of a character to the player. This study tries to fill in that gap by approaching it using personality. However, this study does not test other methods of connection. More work should be done on this. This study lacks any commentary from brand new players. The survey is posted on a forum on World of Warcraft’s website, and is advertised on a chat channel in-game. Therefore, most of the respondents are players from the game. Note, to access the forums, one must have an account with World of Warcraft. The current results are biased by this requirement This study needs to be drawn out further. Current results are not sufficient to answer the problem stated in the Introduction. The original test for this thesis should be done, as well. Originally this study was going to bring in new players and ask them about their experiences in the game. Due to time and lack of people, the test could not be completed before this thesis needed to be turned in; however, the researcher does plan on continuing to work on the problem, using the survey and the method described herein. With the newest expansion in the game, it will change dramatically and make new players feel welcomed. The researcher, through a random selection process, has been and is able to test the new content that will be released on a date prior to December 7th, 2010. The old processes of gameplay have been updated as previously stated.

MMORPG Avatars 30 This research cannot only benefit MMORPGs and other games with customizable avatars, but also social networking or even study guides for test that use a game format

MMORPG Avatars 31 Appendices Survey Template
1. Do you still play your first character (not first 60/70/80)? Yes/ No 2. What affected your initial choices for race and class? Aesthetics (Looks), Advise

from a fellow player, Previous Experience from other MMORPGs, Limit on race choice from class, Refer a friend, Other (See answer comments)
3. Have you made any changes to your first character (as in faction change, race change,

etc.)? Yes (See answer comments)/No
4. Do you think if you had a personality test would aid new players to find a suitable

connection with the game and their character? Yes/No
5. Do you think race and class make a difference in the game? Yes/No 6. When you create a new character, what affects your decision for race and class? PvP

utilization, Raid integration, Easier to group as, Easier to solo as, Both grouping and soloing, Lack of class in guild/guild raids, Trying something new, Area for race, Other (See answer comments) Answer Comments Question 2: 1. I played extensively throughout the entire closed beta experience, and Hunter was the last class made available, and thus the only one I didn't level. I picked a Hunter at launch for this reason. I am a Druid. I picked the class because I love animals. And Taurens are fuzzy!

2.

MMORPG Avatars 32

3. 4. 5.

racials Utility of teleports and conjuring food *Note from researcher, this answer can be seen as explicit, please read at your own consent* I am a rogue , and i like to grape people. Getting graped by a Blood Elf just angers people.

6. 7. 8.

racial/class abilitys lore/racial background I wasn't limited but the person I was playing with was, so to be the same race as her I had to pick Night Elf class abilities Troll rogue, how can you go wrong?

9. 10 . 11 . 12 . 13 . 14 . 15 . 16 . 17

I wanted to play a character that could cast spells and fight in melee, so for my first character I chose a paladin--a dwarf, since they're more fantasy-like than humans. Storyline and lore

I could not get a blood elf because I didn't have BC yet. I'm a loser.

Couldn't play the race on trial account

I preferred Orcs from Warcraft 2 & 3 and thought hunters would be fun.

Playstyle prefrence, I wanted a DD that could heal itself through damage, as well as be helpful to a group though debuffing. (Play Warlock since 1.0) I played a night elf in WC3

MMORPG Avatars 33

. 18 . 19 . 20 . 21 . 22 . racial attributes

I have played the other warcraft games and I go off of the type of charicter that I want to play (close to roleplaying) I like using big axes.

As a roleplayer, I wanted to play a certain -character- more than a race/class combination. I chose a race and class that I believed was the most suitable for the character. A mix - advice 'don't pick a priest first up', and reading description of classes in BradyGames book, I first picked my class then picked the race it worked best with. I liked the mix and if I hadn't have found the right mix might have picked a second class Night elf hunter seemed to be a good match

23 . 24 .

I'd been watching my father play for years and I always wanted to make a Nelf hunter... Draenei pally soon overtook it though :D

Question 3 1. I server transferred from Illidan-US to follow my guild members just prior to TBC release. We came to Demon Soul the day it became available for transfers (it was very new at the time). Orcs are the Omega I moved my main to another server to raid. Friends transfered Switched servers to play with friends

2. 3. 4. 5.

MMORPG Avatars 34

6.

Cause the alliance side was bloody terrible, half the people there should be in state sponsored institutions The name I had was ridiculous so when I got older I changed it to something more normal. char deleted. Human females have better racials and they look better. I Went from Alliance NE Hunter to Horde Undead Mage, no explanation needed lol I traded it for another account. Wanted to see what it was like with the other faction I changed her name and appearance after moving her to a new realm. Changed to female, got tired of being a male. First character was a night elf priest, Didn't know how to leave the tree zone so I rerolled a human. The only change I've really made is a server transfer or two. I don't count those as "character" changes, but figured I'd mention it. all of the above I no longer play Horde. unbalance between horde and alliance on my server Does accidentally deleting and then remaking on opposite faction count? PvP viability

7.

8. 9. 10.

11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

16.

17. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Question 6

MMORPG Avatars 35

1. 2.

race aesthetics, grinding for achievements (i.e. rogue for junkboxes for the insane title) Sometimes I'll make a character that I want to look somewhat like a specific fictional character, and that has an impact on class/race. I'm obsessed with min/maxing though, so I'll only do it if it still confers the benefits of the right class/race combo. whatever makes the best costumes. orcs are best. I'm Inoxia Whatever kills people the fastest I really just choose the race and class that I'm "feeling" at the moment, usually some kind of inspiration is the reason. how good their racials are for pve raiding abilities Though I always play a rogue in fantasy environments, my personality is nothing like a rogue. And I have said before, when it's all fun and games I am the shifty rogue you can't trust, but when it comes to real life I hate deception. I know my personality and my class are correlated, but probably not directly. Awesomeness mostly. Not for rp, but for my own satisfaction.

3. 4. 5. 6.

7. 8. 9.

10 . 11 . 12 . 13 . 14 .

Having fun

How a character looks in armor.

Roleplaying.

Lore, appearance, racials, mount

MMORPG Avatars 36

15 . 16 . 17 .

Depends on what I wanna do; For example, if I want to heal, I'll go draenei or blood elf for their racial abilities. More if I want to be melee or caster, then I decide from there based on faction and what race I like better. i play all 10 classes... 8 80s, 1 71, 1 46

MMORPG Avatars 37 References Bartle, R. (1996). Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: Players who suit MUDs. Journal of Online Environments, 1 Barton, M. (2008). Dungeons & desktops: The history of computer role-playing games, Wellesy, MA: A K Peters, Ltd. Blizzard Entertainment (2010), World of Warcraft DiGiuseppe, N., & Nardi, B. (2007). Real genders choose fantasy characters: Class choices in World of Warcraft [Electronic version]. First Monday, 12 (5), Retrieved March 10, 2010 from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/rt/printerFriendly/1831/1715 Gunkel, J. G., & Gunkel, A. H. (2007), Terra nova 2.0 – the new world of MMORPGs [Electronic version]. Critical studies in media communication, 26 (2), 104-127. Henderson, B. (2008). Lost within a parallel world: World of Warcraft, the most addicting massively multiplayer online role-playing game? [Electronic version]. Krzywinska, T. (2005). “Elune be praised”: The functions and meanings of myth in the World of Warcraft, Proceedings of the Aesthetics of Play, Bergen, Norway, 14-16 Lee, I., Yu, C., & Lin, H. (2007). Leaving a never-ending game: Quitting MMORPGs and online gaming addiction [Electronic version]. Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, 211-217. Landwehr, P., Diesner, J., & Carley, K. (2009). The words of Warcraft: Relational text analysis of quests [Electronic version]. Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association, Pittsburgh, PA, 1-11

MMORPG Avatars 38 Sotamaa, O. (2007). Perceptions of player in game design literature [Electronic version]. Proceedings of the Digital Games Research Association, University of Tampere, Finland, 456-465. Today’s Gamers (2010). MMO revenues (US$)/USA. Retrieved May 11, 2010 from http://www.gameindustry.com/about-newzoo/todaysgamers_graphs_MMO Williams, D., Yee, N., & Caplan, S.E. (2008), Who plays, how much, and why? Debunking the stereotypical gamer profile [Electronic version]. Journal of computer-mediated
communication, 18, 993-1018.

Woodcock, B. (n.d.) MMOG Active Subscribers: World of Warcraft. Retrieved January 27, 2010 from http://www.mmogchart.com/Chart11.html Yee, N. (2006a). Motivations of play in online games [Electronic version]. CyberPsychology and behavior, 9, 772-775. Yee, N. (2006b). The demographics, motivations, and derived experiences of users of massively multi-user online graphical environments [Electronic version]. PRESENCE: teleoperators and virtual environments, 15, 302-329. Yee, N. (2008). Maps of digital desires: Exploring topography of gender and play in online games. In Kafai, Y., Heeter, C., Denner, J., & Sun, J. (Eds.), Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: A new perspective on gender and gaming (pp. 83-96). Cambridge, MA: MIT press

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