Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
The Daedalus Project

There is a lot about MMORPGs that we don't know. Lots of arguments on blogs like this one, or on various other website or forums, are made based on anecdotal evidence at best. Look for example at the famous "if you play Horde, then you are an evil person" debate, which was based on a the reaction of a single 3-year old on seeing undead. Wouldn't it be better if we had broader statistical evidence on questions like what choice of avatar says about a person? Well, it turns out you can contribute to gathering that evidence. The most famous MMORPG statistician (not much of a title, I admit) Nick Yee is continuing work on his Daedalus Project. And you can participate. Fill out the survey, spread the word, and we will know more about questions like these.

Wow, that's a lot of comments on that survey page from people saying they don't play any more.

It's a shame his survey doesn't include ex-players and why they left. The results might settle one particular argument as to exactly why so many players appear to be leaving WoW.

If anyone else is also interested in why players are leaving, I suggest leaving a comment over at his site asking him to consider extending his survey to include this. Maybe if there's enough interest he might consider it.
First reaction: this survey won't tell you anything about MMORPG players in general, only about WoW players since only active WoW players can participate. Which, incidentally, rules out Tobold.
Something to keep in mind: the survey is a self-selected sample, which automatically means that the results have exactly zero chance of being representative of the global population.
@gabbastorm: Looking at players leaving is definitely a good idea ...

@Mike: One of the primary reasons why we picked WoW is because Blizzard releases lots of public data on characters. For example, the Armory has over 3,500 variables per character. No other MMO comes close in terms of public behavioral data. Another reason is the broad localization around the world, which makes it possible to compare sizeable numbers of, say, EU vs US vs China WoW players. I'm not saying this to imply that this focus is perfect, but just to provide some of the background rationale on our design choice.

@Helistar: I've addressed some sampling issues elsewhere (, but the short story is that so much research has been done with WoW players using a variety of methods--including randomly-sampled server-side research, that it is now possible to understand, triangulate, and correct these skews. Also, it bears to keep in mind that the scientific method is a gradual, cumulative process. Seldom does any one study provide a definitive answer, but over time, consistent patterns and trends across games, genres, and cultures do emerge. This has also been the case with MMO research. When multiple studies using different samples and different methods lead to the same findings, we become more certain of these findings over time.

Wherever you have human participants, you run into a self-selection problem because we can't coerce people to participate in studies. But just because a method isn't perfect doesn't mean we should ignore the research question altogether.
I love MMO research. I tried to write a paper on EQ in Sociology 10 years ago but was told it isn't a valid topic. Wish I had done it anyways.

I think some enteries for ex wow players would be good but I would be careful with what options are available as most people hate everything about a MMO after they stop playing it.
"Only individuals aged 18 or above and are not currently incarcerated are eligible to participate in this study."

I wasn't aware they allowed people to play WoW while in prison...
I find it interesting that the study wants to do regular follow-ups for twelve months. I wonder how many people will actually continue playing throughout that entire time?
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