• The Great Date Night Experiment

    When I last saw J, my supervisor, we were disagreeing about how to do the motivational essay coding for my first World of Warcraft survey.. My plan was to go through the essays first to come up with some themes. Then Basil and I would independently code them for theme. My reasoning was I wanted the coding to be free from subjective bias. If two of us agreed independently, then that would be better than just my assessment of the data. J. thought it was unlikely Basil and I would agree, so she set me the “Great Date Night Experiment.” In this experiment, Basil, my partner, and I would sit down on “date night” and test out my theory on a small scale. Basil would read one essay and summarize the main themes or ideas he thought were represented in the essay. I would independently do the same. Then I would report back to J.

    In the actual experiment, I gave Basil the following three essays:

    Essay 1:
    At first it was a way of keeping in touch with friends after I’d moved away. But I made more new friends throughthe online gaming community that occurs around the game. I’ve met a good number of my fellow guild members, including my guild leader and most of the other officers. To me, game has always been about exploring, storylines and the exotic locales presented therein. That’s all secondary to killing bosses, and trudging through raids really.

    Essay 2:
    I play WoW and other MMORPGS for the simple reason that I’m intrigued by the online community and game play aspects. WoW is my particular favourite that I return to again and again. I believe the reasoning behind this is the friendly community that has matured to quite a size over the number of years I’ve been playing. In addition to the community I find the story lines within the game interesting, challenging and sometimes, dare I say it, exciting. By exciting I mean, that like a good book, you want to see what is going to happen next!

    Originally I started playing WoW for the simply reason it was an MMORPG. I was intrigued by the genre and WoW was really one of the first to be highlighted through the media, etc. As I progressed in the game, I discovered that it was a great way to relax after a busy day. As a form of escapism, it helped with relieving stress.

    Now I rarely get to play WoW or any other MMORPG for that matter, however, for the same reasons of relaxation, online community, exciting stories, I still try to play as regularly as I can.

    Essay 3:
    Originally I moved to WoW simply because the majority of my guild had moved from DAoC, when WoW was released it was the next game that the existing guild members were collecting in. Ironically even though I followed my guild to the game I am actually motivated by the personal achievement.

    I am the kind of player that likes to explore every location, complete every quest before moving on to the next zone and maximise trade skills. With each expansion, I spent most of the time solo’ing to the level cap, then exploring group content with my guild or raiding alliance.

    With access to the raiding alliance I get to try challenging content which often require a level of skill and co-ordination. Currently I am motivated with the challenges of raiding with the aim to have completed as much as possible before the next content patch.

    I know there is a sigma [sic] attached with gamers, but when you consider some people will return from work and just sit passively in front of a TV for 5hours. Similarly you see people sit all night on online chat channels. Given how some spend their time, how can spending your time problem solving and socialising with others with similar interests be so wrong.

    Basil was asked to summarize the main ideas that occurred in each essay. Unfortunately, he was somewhat influenced by the question and noted down what people said their initial impetus for playing World of Warcraft was and then why they continue to play. I had to send him off to do it again. Table 1 illustrates our responses.

    Essay Michelle (me) Basil
    Response 1
    • maintaining long-distance friendships
    • making friends
    • exploration
    • storylines
    • making friends
    • meeting friends
    • exploring
    • storyline
    • raiding
    Response 2
    • relaxation
    • community
    • storylines
    • friendly community
    • game play
    • storyline
    • relaxation
    Response 3
    • friendship
    • achievement
    • challenges
    • guild cohesion
    • completist exploration / questing
    • raiding
    • achievements
    • pre-emptive self-justification
    Table 1: Michelle and Basil’s essay summaries

    When I looked at essay 1, there was a question about things being “secondary to killing bosses , and trudging through raids…” Secondary implies that the other things were of lesser importance, but the negative tone implicit with words like “trudging” would seem to bely that, so I didn’t include the raiding. In talking to Basil, I know he had the same problem, because he asked me about it and I told him I would not give him an answer. As a result, he included raiding, whereas I did not.

    On the whole, we don’t seem that different. If we had gone through the essays in advance together and agreed on some themes, I suspect the coding would have been similar. What do you think?