People who play gnomes are more likely to be annoying in real life.
September 2, 2007 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Nick Yee's Daedalus Project (touched on previously) is dedicated to the study of human behaviour in MMOs. His recent dissertation names "The Proteus Effect": a correlation between MMO characters' appearances, and their players' behaviors. "In the final study (pdf), I showed that the Proteus Effect persists outside of the virtual environment. Placing someone in a taller avatar changes how they consequently negotiate in a face-to-face setting." His archives cover a lot of ground, and current MMO players can help by taking the survey. For a little lighter reading, refer to his critique of Internet Addiction Disorder, a "condition" that started as a joke, but almost made it into the DSM-V.
posted by mek (11 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
From the PDF:
Using a large dataset from the online game World of Warcraft, I found that a character’s height and attractiveness were both significant predictors of their performance level within the environment. Avatars that were taller or more attractive were significantly more likely to be higher level than avatars that were shorter or less attractive. This data suggests that the Proteus Effect occurs in natural virtual communities and is not limited to short-term, dyadic, interactions. In my final pilot study, I also found that the Proteus Effect persists even when the participants have been taken out of the virtual environment. Participants that had been given taller avatars continued to negotiate more aggressively face-to-face compared with participants that had been given shorter avatars. In other words, our avatars do not only significantly change how we behave in a virtual environment; our avatars in fact continue to influence our behaviors even when we step away from the virtual environment.
posted by mek at 4:00 PM on September 2, 2007

His questions on economic behavior in the game were far more interesting to me. In the real world I suck with money, but in WOW I am a wealthy speculator. I spend hours gleefully risking large amounts of gold, making and losing fortunes in a day.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:20 PM on September 2, 2007

It helps to have money to make money. My impression is that in WoW (and please correct me if I am wrong) it is much easier to build up that original wealth in the first place.
posted by moonbiter at 10:28 PM on September 2, 2007

My avatar used to be a battlecruiser. Your move, Nick Yee.
posted by chrominance at 12:20 AM on September 3, 2007

chrominance, how much of my life will be lost if i start playing EVE?
Can one mere mortal (with a job, and a need for 7 hours of sleep) handle both WoW and EVE?

And for the record, I suck with money in both real life and WoW. How are you making gold, UyB?
posted by bashos_frog at 6:54 AM on September 3, 2007

To ask whether teenagers are getting “addicted” to online games is a way of not asking why our schools are failing to engage our children. To ask why some people get “addicted” to their fantasy personas is a way of not asking how we expect people to derive life satisfaction from working at Wal-Mart. MMOs are seductive because they empower some people in ways that the real world does not. The people who we let fall through the holes of our social fabric are caught by an alternate reality where they feel a sense of satisfaction and purpose.

I like this guy. Great links.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:34 AM on September 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

Simple...I gather materials (such as ore in mining). Then, I try to control the market for those materials. Example: Let's say I have about 10 stacks of Iron Ore I have mined. I want to get 5 gold a stack out of them. But, when I check the Auction House, the price is down to 2.5 due to undercutting. I use my wealth to buy up all the stacks less than 5 gold. This leaves only stacks priced at 5 gold or higher. Then, I wait a few hours. Usually, not always, but usually the price will go UP for a while due to two factors:

1) The 5 gold stacks sell out as they are now the lowest priced.

2) People have been sitting on inventory unwilling to put it on the Auction House for the 2.5 gold price, and when they see the higher price the jump in.

After this occurs the price is usually something like 6 gold or higher. I then put most of my stacks in at the 5 gold price I wanted all along. If I played my cards right they will sell because there will be a window when they will be the lowest price. Eventually undercutting will occur again, but that takes time because people have to gather more ore to sell. Most often I sell all my stacks quickly and A) Get the 5 out of my stacks I wanted and B) realize a profit margin of .5-2 gold on those I bought out at the lower price.

I do this every day and it isn't unusual to make between 50-100 gold a day. Of course, there are those days when I get stuck with 20 stacks of something worth very little or that my auctions all expire. But I win far more often than I lose.
posted by UseyurBrain at 9:12 AM on September 3, 2007

Or you can just run Scarlet Monastery repeatedly. If you prefer the "massacre people and take their stuff" method of getting rich.
posted by Anduruna at 10:10 AM on September 3, 2007

So basically, you sit at a desk and work but you pay Blizzard for the pleasure.

Tried the game, I saw the sort of addictive / keep you playing properties it had, but there was not all that much fun, in a large part because there was zero challenge. Some of that is because I don't form any sort of even minorly meaningful relationship other than face to face, so the whole social aspect is pretty much gone. I can see how that could be enough to make it interesting, if you're the type who can make friends online. For me, when my life gets boring, it's time to improve my life, not start a WoW life. (NOT KNOCKING YOU IF IT WORKS FOR YOU.) On the whole the thing felt like a combination of work and when I went to Vegas and played the slot machines and video poker. That is, designed to keep you playing at some visceral level with flashing lights and buzzers, but not really all that interesting.

It's interesting this whole Proteus effect. I basically assumed everyone else running around was some loser sitting in front of a screen to keep from being bored, just like I was.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:15 AM on September 3, 2007

Well, it's certainly easy to generalize, but the vast majority MMO players have lives outside of the game, and play for a variety of reasons - there's a lot of demographic information available on the site.
posted by mek at 6:38 PM on September 3, 2007

UyB - thanks for the info. Its an interesting strategy, and it beats running around the plaguelands, killing the undead all day.
posted by bashos_frog at 5:27 AM on September 4, 2007

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