Characteristics of World of Warcraft Users in and Undergraduate Population
Research Summary

World of Warcraft (WoW) is one of the most popular online games in history.  Released in late 2004, WoW has demonstrated an impressive level of steady growth, with approximately 10,000,000 users maintaining active accounts in early 2008 (MMOGChart, 2008).  Part of the success of WoW is likely attributed to the degree of freedom a player has in interacting with the game.  For example, WoW is designed as a self-paced game and, although offering opportunities for virtual combat, also provides players with the option to complete quests (tasks within the WoW world) with a minimum of combat (Blizzard, 2008).  But despite its growing popularity, there is relatively little research to explore its popularity or understand the factors which influence its use.  Previous research with other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC) has indicated that personality can have a significant influence on the use of computer technology.  For example, traits such as Extraversion and Neuroticism have been associated with greater use of CMC technologies (e.g., Butt & Phillips, 2008; Amichai-Hamburger, Wainpel & Fox, 2002; Mantovani, 2001).  Likewise, competency with technology can have a significant effect on the decision to use the technology, with greater use associated with higher levels of ability (Spitzberg, 2006).

Results indicate that the trait of Conscientiousness is significantly associated with a number of WoW behaviours, including the daily amount of time spent on WoW (r = -.34), frequency of social communication through WoW (r = -.33) and including WoW into daily activities (r = -.27).  Motivations and attitudes toward communication were also found to be associated with WoW behaviours. Approximately 60% of the sample played WoW for 60 minutes a day or less.  Those who played three hours per day or more demonstrated significantly lower scores on the trait of Conscientiousness (M = 59.6, S.D. = 16.8) than those who played less than three hours per day (M = 71.1, S.D. = 12.2), t(60) = 2.95, p = .005.
These results suggest that WoW is used as a form of distraction by those who do not feel a strong obligation to complete daily tasks.  The trait of Conscientiousness reflects an individual’s tendency to meet obligations, make effective use of personality time and be prepared.  However, considering the fact that WoW is an inherently social venue, it is surprising that other personality traits, such as Extraversion, were not associated with measures of Facebook use.  One possible explanation for these findings is that undergraduate students are more interested in using WoW for entertainment purposes than for socialization.  This supposition is reinforced by the differences in Conscientiousness scores between high and low daily users of WoW.

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