for science

Exploring ‘The Video Game Debate’: Are MMO communities real or fake?

We’ve come a long way in our discussion of Rachel Kowert and Thorsten Quandt’s book The Video Game Debate: Unravelling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Video Games, and while this article title might seem a contentious one to wrap up the series, I think it presents a topic and chapter worth debating.

In the book, Frans Mäyrä’s chapter on online communities initially offended me more than any other, but by the end of his thesis, he’d made some persuasive points that we, the MMO community, must consider. While Mäyrä does use a narrow definition of community, it’s to prove a point. It’s not that MMOs don’t contain communities; it’s a question of the circumstances, values, and outcomes related to their rise, fall, and the perception of the outside world.

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EVE Online’s Project Discovery netted almost half a million classifications in its first day

First announced back in 2015, EVE Online’s Project Discovery got underway this week. It’s a science collaboration that rewards EVE players in-game for playing a minigame that is actually a clever way to contribute time and brainpower to the Human Protein Atlas – real-world science.

CCP’s partner in the project, Massively Multiplayer Online Science, has announced that even in just one day, the research has been a staggering success:

“First of all 463.936 classifications! Let me put it down again: four hundred sixty-three thousand nine hundred thirty-six classifications. Amazing achievement – congratulations to all. The per minute classification number peaked at around 800!! A number like this was something that only came up in our wildest dreams. And the fact that we couldn’t pass the half-million limit is really on us with almost 4 hours of downtime of the service. 15.154 capsuleers gave a try to Project Discovery and got through the tutorial phase. 6.828 got even through the training phase: it is important, because without completing the training phase you can’t contribute to the actual research.”

In fact, so many people turned out that MMOS says it struggled to keep the servers up, and CCP is planning to boost its infrastructure too:

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EVE Online’s Project Discovery makes scientists out of capsuleers

Wouldn’t it be great if instead of playing gems or trolling general chat during your MMORPG downtime, you could be contributing to real-world science? And wouldn’t it be even better if MMO devs collaborated directly with scientists to make that all happen? That’s exactly what CCP is up to in EVE Online with its Project Discovery.

If you ever donated time to Galaxy Zoo, you’ll understand how this works: You play an ostensible minigame inside of EVE, hunting for patterns (or the lack thereof) in sets of images presented to you by the game. Of course, in this case the images are of human cells, and players are actually crowdsourcing some of the more mundane bits of science research for the Human Protein Atlas project — in exchange for a nifty EVE plotline and in-game rewards.

This week, CCP released two videos on the project — one an overview, one an in-character announcement — and both are below.

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The Daily Grind: How do you plot your gameplay in an open-world sandbox?

Quantic Foundry’s series of blog posts in support of its Gamer Motivation Model continue with its most recent piece on open world games, which finds that when presented with an open-world, open-ended game, players tend to balance their urge to complete a campaign with their desire to randomly explore. Author Kaleb Embaugh argues that while men and women approach such gameplay equally, younger gamers on the whole tend to favor a more single-minded campaign over rudderless exploration. Unsurprisingly, players who leaned more heavily on exploration tend to score high on discovery and fantasy when taking the GMM quiz.

Embaugh bases his conclusions on data revolving around Fallout 4, however, which isn’t an MMORPG. But I wonder whether they couldn’t apply to our genre as well. We have certainly seen massively multiplayer online games that pull in elements from both ends of game design, such as post-NGE’s Star Wars Galaxies, which combined open-world sandbox mechanics with a starkly themeparkish legacy questline.

So how do you plot your gameplay in an open-world sandbox? Do you focus on exploring your own way, or do you buckle down and follow whatever leveling or achievement system the developers have implemented? And does your pattern change when you’re playing a themepark?

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The Daily Grind: Does your age impact your MMO gameplay preferences?

We’ve been following gaming research firm Quantic Foundry the past few months as it’s been hammering out its Gamer Motivation Model. This week, it released an article calling all of you old.

Just kidding. Actually, the blog post by Dr. Nick Yee says that the first generation of gamers who really truly grew up on games isn’t stopping, which has pushed the average gamer age up to 35 over the last 15 or so years, and it’s a demographic he says is worth exploring.

“Among the 12 motivations we measure in our model, the interest in Competition changes the most with age,” he argues. “In our framework, Competition is the appeal of competing with other players in duels, matches, or team-vs-team scenarios. The gender difference in Competition is large at first among younger gamers, but then disappears with age. As gamers get older, the appeal of Competition declines, but this happens more rapidly for men than for women. Thus, by the time we’re past 45, the difference between men and women largely disappears.”

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Exploring ‘The Video Game Debate’: Social outcomes and online gamers

Of all the chapters in Rachel Kowert and Thorsten Quandt’s book The Video Game Debate: Unravelling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Video Games, this is the chapter I’ve been most dreading to cover in our ongoing series on MMOs and psychology.

It’s not just because, as I previously mentioned, it’s one of the most difficult chapters in the book. It’s the findings. Dr. Kowert is very balanced in her handling of the topic, both pro and against gaming in terms of social outcomes. But for me, someone who recently had a huge bout with depression and used online games to deal with it, this chapter began as a knock-out punch to my ego before I was able to rely on some other strategies to stand up and tackle my understanding of the chapter, and myself, from different angles.

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The Daily Grind: Does gender play a role in your MMORPG class selection?

We’ve been covering Nick Yee-founded Quantic Foundry’s game analytics research as it’s fleshing out the Gamer Motivation Model, which seeks to create a modernized personality chart for gamers. This week, Quantic wrote that in its recent survey of over a thousand gamers, it could conclude that at least in first-person shooters,

“A higher proportion of male gamers preferred aggressive, close range tactics when compared with female gamers. Stealthy, long-range encounters on the other hand are preferred by a larger proportion of women compared to men. Interestingly, both groups were consistent in having the stealthy approach as the most popular answer, followed by close range tactics. An ‘in-between’ approach was the least popular answer with both men and women.”

(There’s much more to the post, including charts and responses by age, so have a look.)

I wondered whether those data might apply to MMORPG players as well. After all, some MMOs can also be played first-person or at the very least in chase-cam mode. As someone who’s played tanks, healers, and ranged in probably equal measures by now, I certainly don’t fit the profile. How about you? Do you think your gender influences your chosen MMO roles and classes?

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The Daily Grind: Are OARPGs the future of the MMORPG genre?

Toward the end of 2014, genre academics popularized the idea that the MMORPG genre was becoming “unbundled” — that MMORPGs were splintering, “with sociality, story, multi-player combat, and economy splitting off into different directions and platforms instead of staying unified in MMOs.” At the time, it was hard to argue; it seemed to us that MOBAs, online FPS titles, survival sandboxes, and so forth were taking bits and pieces of the MMORPG genre and running off with them.

The current trend might be the the online action RPG, the multiplayer roguelike — the Diablo clone, essentially. We may never get a pure raiding game, but the OARPG is surely the closest thing to a pure dungeoning experience, and we’ve been seeing them crop up on Kickstarter and Steam early access more and more frequently (in contrast with the decline of new MOBAs).

I’m not horribly sad about it, as I find roguelikes’ multiplayer combat far more interesting than modern MMORPG dungeoning, but I’m certainly not a big fan of the fracturing of the genre, if that is indeed what we’re witnessing. What do you think? Are OARPGs the next big thing for the MMORPG industry?

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Superdata says League of Legends makes more money than any other game you play

Let’s just get this out of the way: Superdata is a research firm that sells its data analysis. It doesn’t disclose its methodology or sources if you don’t pony up for them. However, what it does make public is worth mulling over, and this week the company released top 10 lists for console games, PC games, and mobile games by gross revenue. If you’ve been paying any attention at all, the numbers won’t surprise you: The firm has named League of Legends the world’s “top-grossing digital game“:

“Riot’s League of Legends shows no signs of slowing down as December proved to be the game’s highest-earning month in its history. Close followers were Clash of Clans ($1.3B), CrossFire ($1.1B) and Dungeon Fighter Online ($1.05B) rounding out last year’s titles that earned over a billion dollars. Despite not being a household names in the west, games like CrossFire and Dungeon Fighter Online perform well thanks to the strength and momentum in markets like South Korea and China.”

The PC revenue chart is entirely online games, a number of them true MMOs, for that matter, including Dungeon Fighter Online, World of Warcraft, World of Tanks, Lineage, and Maplestory.

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EVE Online enlists community aid in real-world scientific research

EVE Online is warping into a sector where hobbies and scientific research intersect. CCP Games announced that it’s partnering up with The Human Protein Atlas to help provide some much-needed crowdsourcing muscle for an important project.

The Swedish research group needs human eyeballs to comb over new protein images to look for anomalies and assign each image to a certain classification. Since this can’t be easily done by computer but can be handed off to an average person with minimal training, this seemed like a good project with which to include a large group of people (i.e., an MMO community).

To incentivize players to participate, CCP is giving ISK and LP to those who help out. The feature is currently on the test server and will come to the game proper on January 28th.

Source: EVE Online

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How ‘Gamer Motivation Model’ researchers slot MOBAs on the strategy map

This winter, we’ve been chronicling the escapades of Nick Yee-founded game analytics consulting firm Quantic Foundry, which published what it’s calling the Gamer Motivation Model. Researchers compiled user-submitted profiles from thousands of gamers to develop a sort of modern Bartle quotient that groups gamer types into three “clusters of motivations” rather than the standard socializer, achiever, killer, explorer archetypes. Earlier this month, we invited our readers to take the test along with us to see how we fit into the greater gamer curve and understand how the model ranks us.

Yee’s most recent post on the project shows how the aggregate data might be used from a game development perspective rather than just to amuse curious gamers.

“[I]n the survey, we also ask gamers to list their favorite game titles. This allows us to pivot between gamers and games – we can use the aggregated game audience profiles to compare games. For example, is Civilization more strategically complex than SimCity? Well, we can compare their audience Strategy scores to find out. In this sense, the Gamer Motivation Profile isn’t just a benchmarking tool for gamers, it’s also a benchmarking tool for game titles.”

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Exploring ‘The Video Game Debate’: Cognitive performance and your brain on games

So far in our exploration of the topics in Rachel Kowert and Thorsten Quandt’s book The Video Game Debate: Unravelling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Video Games, we’ve tackled the state of modern game research, online games and internet addiction, moral panic and online griefing, and the role of games in education (and vice versa). Today, we’ll focus on video games and cognitive performance — your brain on games!

I was recently reminded that for a long time gaming was identified as something that could, at minimum, be used to master reaction times. In 1982, Chevy Chase of all people actually highlighted both the potential and fear of the power of games in terms of their impact on cognitive performance.

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Massively Overthinking: Let’s play with the Gamer Motivation Model

Over the winter holidays, we wrote about game analytics consulting firm Quantic Foundry, which has published what it calls its “Gamer Motivation Model” — essentially, it’s an updated Bartle test for modern gamers that groups gamer types into three “clusters of motivations.” More recently, co-founder Dr. Nick Yee — yes, that Nick Yee — has discussed how gamer motivations align with personality traits.

In light of the fun we had taking the Bartle test a few months ago and the news that Bartle himself is publishing new books offering insight into our genre, we thought we’d take the Gamer Motivation test ourselves, share our results and our thoughts on the test, and provoke you to do the same.

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