Psychology of MMORPGs
Since the interactions between MMORPG players are real, even if the environments are not, psychologists and sociologists are also able to use MMORPGs as tools for academic research.
Sherry Turkle, a clinical psychologist, has conducted interviews with computer users including game-players. Turkle found that many people have expanded their emotional range by exploring the many different roles (including gender identities) that MMORPGs allow a person to explore.
Nick Yee, a Ph.D student, has surveyed more than 35,000 MMORPG players over the past few years, focusing on psychological and sociological aspects of these games. His research can be found at The Daedalus Project. Recent findings included that 15% of players become a guild-leader at one time or another, but most generally find the job tough and thankless; and that players spend a considerable amount of time (often a third of their total time investment) doing things that are directly-related to, but outside of the game itself.
Many players report that the emotions they feel while playing an MMORPG are very strong, to the extent that 8.7% of male and 23.2% of female players in a statistical study had had an online wedding.
Other researchers have found that the enjoyment of a game is directly related to the social organization of a game, ranging from brief encounters between players to highly organized play in structured groups.
Also, Richard Bartle has classified multiplayer RPG-players into four primary psychological groups. His classifications were then expanded upon by Erwin Andreasen, who developed the concept into the thirty-question Bartle Test that helps players determine which category they are associated with. With over 200,000 test responses as of 2006, this is perhaps the largest ongoing survey of multiplayer game players.
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