[MUD-Dev] [DGN] A comparison of adolescent and adult online computer game players

Luca Girardo girardo at computer.org
Thu Feb 5 13:56:16 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

A team of psychologists at Nottingham Trent University led by
Professor Mark Griffiths has published an interesting article about
the results of a survey of 540 gamers who played EverQuest.

  "Online computer gaming: a comparison of adolescent and adult
  gamers" by M. D. Griffiths, , Mark N. O. Davies and Darren
  Chappell -- Psychology Division, Nottingham Trent University,
  Burton Street, Nottingham NG1 4BU, UK

  Available online 30 December 2003.


They used primary data collected through an online questionnaire
survey to examine and collect information of online computer game
players about demographic factors, playing frequency, playing
history and favourite and least favorite aspects of playing an
online game. The team used some online fan sites to publicize the
online survey (mostly through the sites boards).  The results,
published in this month's issue of the Journal of Adolescence,
showed that:

  - adolescent gamers were significantly more likely to be male (~1
  out of 16) than the adult group (~1out of 5)

  - a high educational level for the adult population (1 out of 4
  with a college educational level)

  - adult gamers were significantly more likely to sacrifice their
  education or work (1 out of 4) in order to play EverQuest.

Other results that I found particularly interesting were related to
the playing history, play frequency and the favorite and least
favorite features of online gaming.

The survey showed that older players reported having been playing
for more months than younger players. Approximately the same
percentage of adolescents and adults played the game with friends
(~7 of 10). Interesting is also the fact that adults player were
more likely to have at some time gender swapped while playing online
(6 of 10).

The playing frequency analysis showed a high average playing time
per week ( 23 to 30 depending from the age group). The younger the
player, the longer they spent each week playing. The playing history
analysis showed that the mean time adolescent (>24 months) had been
playing EverQuest to be lower then the mean time of the adults.

The last two aspects were related to the favorite and least favorite
features of online gaming:

  the most popular feature for both groups was the social feature(1
  of 2) (social contact with others, being able to assist others,
  being a Guild member etc.). At the same significantly more
  adolescents stated that violence (PvP, hand-to hand combat, etc.)
  is their favorite aspect of game play.

  Least favorite features of online playing were mostly concentrated
  at the game-specific features and the player dislike factors
  (selfish players, immature players, etc.).

The article contains some interesting data especially about the
analysis of the different parameters.  At the same time I think it
has some weaknesses. The fact that players had played an average of
2 years, shows that the population used to collect the data of the
survey represented just one group, a group I would call "power
users" (users I would expect to search for news on fan sites and
read the different boards of the fan site (the location where the
researchers publicized the online questionnaire)). Other weaknesses
of the survey, like the demographic one, were addressed directly by
the authors.

<EdNote: I have the PDF.  At $30 it is expensive but quite
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