What’s the difference between a gamer who
prefers to play multiplayer games, and a gamer who prefers to play alone? In
this final look at the DGD2 survey (for now, at least – I have some major posts
to come, but they will have to wait) I will very briefly examine differences
between players who prefer to play alone, and those that prefer to play with
other people. (Values in brackets are the statistical significance of a
2-tailed t-test – the lower the value, the more significant the finding).
The 1,040 respondents in this survey divided more or less evenly into the two camps. 40.6% preferred to play single player games on their own, with an additional 7.1% preferring single player play, but enjoying playing such games with other people via pad passing and similar play-sharing techniques. The remaining 52% of the survey preferred a form of multiplayer gaming: multiplayer in the same room was the most popular at 17.1%, followed by virtual worlds and MMORPGs at 16.3%, and multiplayer gaming over the internet 13.6%. Finally, team or clan play over the internet represented just 5.3% of the sample.
One thing immediately stands out of the
results: those who prefer multiplayer are much more focussed on challenge (and
thus fiero – the emotion of triumph over adversity) than those who prefer
single player. Multiplayer respondents gave much higher ratings for challenge-oriented
play (.000) and both for the emotion of fiero (.009) and the fiero-enhancing
emotion of anger (.009). That’s not all: multiplayer-preference players had a
statistically significant higher preference for social emotions (.000) and random
elements in games (.000), and a lower preference for sandbox play (.017).
This paints a particular picture of these two kinds of players.
Multiplayer gamers (statistically speaking)
tend to be challenge-oriented, and willing to be aroused to anger as this
enhances their eventual reward in fiero when they attain victory. They are not
only enjoying fiero, though, they are also enjoying the social element of
multiplayer games such as the sense of belonging to a team, feelings of envy
and gratitude, and the feeling of naches – the satisfaction of seeing
someone you taught to play perform well.
Conversely, single player gamers
(statistically speaking) are showing greater interest in having control over
the space of their play. This is one way to interpret the lower interest in
random elements – these add variety to play, but they also mean the player has
less direct control over outcomes. The higher interest in sandbox play can also
be interpreted as an increased interest in having complete control over the
play space, although undoubtedly other interpretations are possible.
Regarding the skills of play, multiplayer
gamers rate themselves fractionally higher on basic game literacy (.001) –
perhaps a sign of higher self-confidence rather than anything connected with
game literacy – and (in the context of Temperament Theory) had a slightly
higher mean rating for Logistical skills i.e. tolerance of repetition (.028)
although this was a marginal result at best. However, the multiplayer gamers
rated themselves much higher in terms of Tactical skills i.e. real time
decision-making and action (.000) which is not surprising given that the most
popular games to play in multiplayer all depend upon Tactical skills (first
person shooters and racing games, for instance).
We do not usually think about the split between those that prefer single player and those that prefer multiplayer games as enormously significant, but there are clearly patterns of difference to be detected. For one thing, it seems that the emotional reward of fiero may be more attractive when it is earned against (or with the assistance of) human players – beating a single player game might be less satisfying because it was not a person that was overcome. For the 36% of gamers for whom multiplayer competitive play is appealing, playing together is doubly rewarding: not only do they get the emotional benefits of social play, but the taste of victory appears to be all the more sweet when it is won from a human opponent.
This post concludes the statistical analysis of the DGD2 data for now. I may have one more analysis in the future concerning game genres, but this has not yet been conducted. Concerning the conclusions of the DGD2 study – this will have to wait!