Publication: How Players Value their Characters in World of Warcraft

Characters in games such as World of Warcraft allow players to act in the game world and to interact with others. Game characters and avatars are a mediated form of self-representation for the player, but some research suggests that players also view characters in other ways that have to do with the kinds of value that the characters provide. To better understand the ways that players value their characters in an online environment, we carried out a semi-structured interview study of twenty World of Warcraft players. From our data we identify ten kinds of value that characters can provide -- including utility, investment, communication, memory, enjoyment, and representations of relationships, as well as value as an opportunity for experience, creativity, sociability, and self-expression. The analytical lens of value provides a new understanding of the ways that players appreciate characters in online multi-user worlds. Our results can help developers understand and enhance an element of multi-player games that contributes greatly to player experience and satisfaction.

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Participants

Ian Livingston
Electronic Arts
Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan
Regan Mandryk
University of Saskatchewan
Max Birk
University of Saskatchewan

Citation

Livingston, I.J., Gutwin, C., Mandryk, R.L., Birk, M. 2014. How Players Value their Characters in World of Warcraft. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2014), ISBN 978-1-4503-2540-0. 1333-1343. DOI=10.1145/2531602.2531661.

BibTeX

@inbook {445-how-players-value,
author= {Ian Livingston and Carl Gutwin and Regan Mandryk and Max Birk},
title= {How Players Value their Characters in World of Warcraft},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2014)},
year= {2014},
pages= {1333-1343}
}