Abstract

Online survey data were collected from 30,000 users of Massively Multi-User Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) over a three year period to explore users' demographics, motivations, and derived experiences. Not only do MMORPGs appeal to a broad age range (Mage = 26.57, range = 11–68), but the appeal is strong (on average 22 hours of usage per week) across users of all ages (r = −.04). An exploratory factor analysis revealed a five factor model of user motivations—Achievement, Relationship, Immersion, Escapism, and Manipulation—illustrating the multifaceted appeal of these online environments. Male players were significantly more likely to be driven by the Achievement and Manipulation factors, while female players were significantly more likely to be driven by the Relationship factor. Also, the data indicated that users derived meaningful relationships and salient emotional experiences, as well as real-life leadership skills from these virtual environments. MMORPGs are not simply a pastime for teenagers, but a valuable research venue and platform where millions of users interact and collaborate using real-time 3D avatars on a daily basis.

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