As our research project in WoW begins its final weeks of data collection, I am struck by the passion of the members of this community we have been so privileged to host in our little add-on-generated game, Shadows of Dalaran.
I confess that my years of playing WoW before starting this project led me to assume that most of the folks we’d get would be hyper-pragmatic, focused on getting through the quests, and in it for the game card. Instead, we seem to have drawn hundreds and hundreds of excited, interested and interesting people who have thoughtful things to say.
We’ve had people aged 18 (our minimum) through their early 60s, and sure, lots are in their 20s, but lots are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, too. We’ve seen people with a wide range of identities, backgrounds, languages, ethnicities, sexualities, and genders. Although most of our participants have been playing for over 2 years, we have some brand new players, too.
Overwhelmingly, the messages we get and people we meet are polite, enthusiastic, and insightful. Some people share thoughts about the survey, others tell us they’re intrigued by the way we set up the game and interface. Many want to learn the results (which we’ll post when they’re ready, I promise!), and others offer additional help or suggestions for improvement. (I can’t provide quotes or examples because we’re not quite done and I don’t want to be unduly influencing folks….)
Notably absent are the trolls, the cruel comments, the flip responses, and the unending invectives I have come to know and love from Trade chat in its various incarnations.
Plus! This is truly amazing… people actually seem to be reading our quest windows! Yes, I know you’re shocked. But they do!
Of course, we’ve only had contact with about 0.012% of the total WoW-playing population (or about .024% of the US players). At about 1,200 responses to our recruitment, we’re hardly even touching the tip of the 10+ million player iceberg (as of Dec. 2011). Those who manage to get from the advertisements to the sign up, through the survey, and onto our scheduling spreadsheets are surely a special sort – they’re mostly going to be the more interested ones. A representative sample this is not.
But self-selection aside, let me just say that WoW players are an amazing bunch, far more varied than most people realise, and all around a joy to meet.