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Cyberpsychologists study WoW social behavior

When this article was first submitted as a tip to WoW Insider, we laughed at it because of its cheesy headline: "1 in 3 World of Warcraft Players Attracted to One Another." People can form personal connections on the internet? Paging the obvious police! Or, as one blogger wrote, "Coming up, Channel 13 takes you inside the APA -- and what you find there might startle you: up to 75% of all Americans say that they prefer grape jelly to accompany peanut butter on their sandwich."

But when I actually read the article, I found that it wasn't all torrid e-romances and "ZOMG, don't people know that WoW isn't real?" There were some pretty interesting facts there, all taken from a UK study of 912 self-selected MMORPG players. Notable tidbits:

  • Forty percent of respondents said that they had talked to people in MMOs about personal issues that they wouldn't discuss with people they knew offline.
  • Forty-three percent of respondents had met with online friends in offline situations.
  • Twenty percent of players said that their gaming had a negative impact on their relationships with non-gamers.
  • Yep, "one in three" players found themselves attracted to another player. And it might surprise you that this was much more common among female players (42 percent) than male players (26 percent.) And what really surprised me is that ten percent of players said they had developed a physical relationship with someone they met in-game! Wow.
  • The average respondent played online games 23 hours a week.

So what conclusions did the researchers draw from this study? A lot of gamers -- particularly women -- use online games as a way to socialize and meet people in a non-judgmental environment. And if over forty percent of gamers have met their guildmates in real life, and ten percent have actually gotten into a live, flesh-and-blood relationship because of gaming, we can't all be maladjusted, antisocial rejects.

What do you think of this study? Has WoW helped or hindered your social life?

Filed under: Virtual selves, News items

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