Science Can Determine Gender of MMO Players

By Jeff Francis
Science determines mmo player gender

One feature of mmo games that most people accept is that the majority of the female characters running around are actually male. Gamers have accepted this belief without question for years, and it now appears that there is hard data to back that claim up. In fact, researchers say that they can tell the difference between a male and a female player through observation. According to their studies, we can now tell the gender of mmo players through science.

How did this come about? Well, researchers from five different universities in North America analyzed the behavior of 375 World of Warcraft gamers playing a custom quest. They wanted to see if there were any player behaviors that would follow or go against normal gender roles fashioned by our culture. The results were that through observation, you could tell the mmo player gender through certain behaviors.

World of Warcraft blood elf

It seems that 23 percent of men played as women in the mmo, while only 7 percent of women played as men. On the behavior front, certain indicators helped determine the mmo player's gender. Men with female avatars tended to jump more often, move backwards a great deal, maintain some distance from other party members, and choose the more attractive female avatars. In addition, these men used a lot more emotes to act feminine in order to perpetuate the belief that they were female.

Personally, I find this study fascinating and not that surprising. A friend of mine always plays a female character in an mmo game. When I asked him why, he told me that if he was going to spend twenty to thirty hours a week looking at a virtual butt on his monitor, he would prefer to look at a woman's butt than a man's. I've heard the same thing from other gamers as well. Still, it's fascinating to see how our behavior in online games can be distilled down to determine exactly who we are. Just remember this study the next time a female character is flirting with you in an mmo.

May092014

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