World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) supporting complex social interactions among over 12 million players. While the lone gamer stereotype still persists, there is little data on gaming with other players with whom one shares a real life (RL) social relationship. Our work departs from previous studies in focusing on the hybrid of online and offline sociality, rather than only one or the other. We provide perhaps the first quantitative characterization of MMO play with RL friends, family and other social connections. A large online survey collected data from 2865 WoW players from the US, Europe, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The findings overwhelmingly support the view that playing WoW may often serve to enhance, not diminish, RL social interactions. In addition, we present benchmark results on demographics and play patterns in world regions previously not well-studied, and the consistency of our patterns of findings across East/West and gender groupings suggests fascinating issues for further research.
Schiano, D. J.; Nardi, B.; Debeauvais, T.; Ducheneaut, N.; Yee, N. A new look at World of Warcrafts social landscape. 6th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2011); 2011 June 28 - July 1; Bordeaux, France.