What Personality Says About Virtual Game Play Motives
Virtual game worlds are highly popular among young adults.These so called ‘massively multiplayer online role playing games’ (MMORPGs), such as ‘World of Warcraft’, are played for various reasons such as its social character or its challenge. Interestingly, a Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking study shows that the motives to play MMORPGs are closely linked to the player's personality.
- Young adults’ motivation to play MMORPG’s depends on their personality.
- Those who play for social interaction are extravert, open to experience, friendly, and sensitive, while those who play to get a feeling of leadership are precise and organized, and not that friendly.
- For game developers it’s important to understand what motivates people to play their created games, and what characteristics they have in common, in order to target their games more effectively.
Is there a link between young adults’ personality and their motives for playing massively multiplayer online role playing games’ (MMORPGs)?
1413 players of the virtual game World of Warcraft (an online fantasy-based game in which players, alone or in groups, defend the fantasy world of Azeroth) (mean age: 26; 88% male; on average they played the game 24 hours per week)
The participants completed the ‘Big Five Inventory’ test to measure their level of five important personality characteristics (extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and openness to experience). To test whether these personality characteristics affected their play motivations, participants were additionally asked for their most important motivations for playing World of Warcraft.
Facts and findings
- Five important motivations to play World of Warcraft (WoW) were revealed: social motivation, achievement motivation, immersive motivation, leadership motivation, and independence motivation.
- It appeared that each motivation can be linked to several personality traits:
- Young adults who indicated social interaction to be their most important reason to play WoW were extraverted, open to experience, agreeable (i.e., friendly, pleasurable), and neurotic (i.e., nervous, sensitive).
- Those who indicated that a sense of achievement was an important motivation to play tended to be extraverted, open to experience, and neurotic as well, but not that agreeable, and conscientious (i.e., precise, organized).
- Young adults who were motivated to immerse themselves in the game, were neurotic, and open to experience, but not that conscientious, and extraverted.
- However, those who indicated to play for leadership purposes did tend to be extraverted, and conscientious.
- And finally, those who indicated that the feeling of independence was an important play motivation, only tended to be open to experience.
- Critical note: This study does not allow for any conclusions about cause (personality) and effect (game motivation). The results only show that there is an association between some personality characteristics and some motivations for playing WoW.
- Critical note: The results might not be representative of other interactive virtual games, because only the game World of Warcraft was studied.