CYBERPSYCHOLOGY & BEHAVIOR Volume 9, Number 6, 2006 © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Rapid Communication Motivations for Play in Online Games
ABSTRACT An empirical model of player motivations in online games provides the foundation to understand and assess how players differ from one another and how motivations of play relate to age, gender, usage patterns, and in-game behaviors. In the current study, a factor analytic approach was used to create an empirical model of player motivations. The analysis revealed 10 motivation subcomponents that grouped into three overarching components (achievement, social, and immersion). Relationships between motivations and demographic variables (age, gender, and usage patterns) are also presented. INTRODUCTION of the player demographic are motivated differently, and whether certain motivations are more highly correlated with usage patterns or other in-game behaviors. Such a model has value for both researchers and game designers. For researchers, findings may clarify whether certain kinds of players are more susceptible to problematic usage, for example. For game developers, findings may clarify how certain game mechanics may attract or alienate certain kinds of players. While Bartle’s Player Types3 is a well-known player taxonomy of Multi-User Dungeon (MUD) users, the underlying assumptions of the model have never been empirically tested. For example, Bartle assumed that preference for one type of play (e.g., achievement) suppressed other types of play (e.g., socializing or exploring). Also, it has never been empirically shown that the four player types are indeed independent types. In other words, several of the types may correlate to a high degree. In essence, it would be hard to use Bartle’s model on a practical basis unless it was validated with and grounded in empirical data. In the following work, I describe a factor analytic approach to creating an empirically grounded player motivation model.
VERY DAY, millions of people1 interact with each other in online environments known as Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). MMORPG players, who on average are 26 years old, typically spend 22 h per week in these environments.2 Asking MMORPG players why they play reveals a wide variation of motives:
Currently, I am trying to establish a working corporation within the economic boundaries of the virtual world—primarily, to learn more about how real world social theories play out in a virtual economy [male, age 30]. The fact that I was able to immerse myself in the game and relate to other people or just listen in to the “chatter” was appealing [female, age 34].
Indeed, the variation suggests that MMORPGs may appeal to many players because they are able to cater to many different kinds of play styles. Being able to articulate and quantify these motivations provides the foundation to explore whether different sections
Department of Communication, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.
MOTIVATIONS FOR PLAY IN ONLINE GAMES
A list of 40 questions that related to player motivations was generated based on Bartle’s Player Types3 and qualitative information from earlier surveys of MMORPG players. Players used a fivepoint fully labeled construct-specific scale to respond. For example, respondents were asked, “How important is it you to level up as fast as possible?.” After the inventory of items was prepared, data was then collected from 3,000 MMORPG players through online surveys publicized at online portals that catered to MMORPG players from several popular MMORPGs—EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, Ultima Online, and Star Wars Galaxies. A factor analysis was then performed on this data to detect the relationships among the inventory items in order to reveal its underlying structure.
whether certain components should be grouped together. Three main components emerged with eigenvalues greater than 1. Together, these three...
References: 1. Woodcock, B.S. (2005). MMOG Chart. Available at: www.mmogchart.com/. Accessed September 13, 2006. 2. Yee, N. The demographics, motivations, and derived experiences of users of massively-multiuser online graphical environments. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 15:309–329. 3. Bartle, R. (1996). Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: players who suit MUDs. Journal of Virtual Environments. Available at: www.brandeis.edu/pubs/jove/ HTML/v1/bartle.html. Accessed September 13, 2006.
MOTIVATIONS FOR PLAY IN ONLINE GAMES 4. Young, K. (1998). Internet addiction: the emergence of a new clinical disorder. CyberPsychology & Behavior 1:237–244. 5. Bean, A. (2006). The internet’s dangerous power. Washington Square News. Retrieved April 11th, 2006 6. Kershaw, S. (2005). Hooked on the web: Help is on the way. The New York Times. Retrieved December 1st, 2005
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