Video game Everquest 2 provides new way to study human behavior

Feb 27, 2009

A research study by a University of Minnesota computer scientist and colleagues from across the country shows that online, interactive gaming communities are now so massive that they mirror traditional communities.

Can researchers study the populations of online video games, like Everquest 2, just as they study traditional communities like Miami, Pittsburgh or Minneapolis? A research study by a University of Minnesota computer scientist and colleagues from across the country shows that online, interactive gaming communities are now so massive that they mirror traditional communities. These findings are creating a new evolution of social science research where researchers are able to study human behavior using the game.

The research team analyzed three years of data (over 60 terabytes) from the complete server logs and click-streams of Sony's popular PC game EverQuest 2. The data tracked every action performed in one of the world's most popular massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. Everquest 2 has more than 300,000 players who average 26 hours per week playing the game. Because of the intense level of involvement and multi-player environment of the game, the researchers were able to study human behavioral dynamics using the game as a proxy.

The researchers used the virtual world to model the social and behavioral dynamics of individuals, groups, and networks within large communities. Their study presented evidence that the social sciences are at the threshold of a fundamental shift not only in our understanding of the social and behavioral sciences, but also the ways in which we study them.

The research team includes University of Minnesota computer science and engineering professor Jaideep Srivastava; Northwestern University professor Noshir Contractor; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign professor Scott Poole; and University of Southern California assistant professor Dmitri Williams. They recently presented their findings at a 90-minute symposium "Analyzing Virtual Worlds: Next Step in the Evolution of Social Science Research" at this year's annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest meeting of scientists.

Source: University of Minnesota

Explore further: US company sells out of Ebola toys

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Media celebrate female NFL referee, but fumble deeper issues

Oct 08, 2014

The sports media's positive reaction to the hiring of a female referee in professional football is a good sign, according to a Penn State researcher, but did little to help expose deeper issues that hinder greater acceptance ...

Game on for a digital revolution in sport stadiums

Oct 03, 2014

It's the middle of finals season with tens of thousands of fans turning out at stadiums to cheer their teams to victory. Many fans at these and other sporting events already turn to digital technology by ...

Tokyo Game Show: On the hunt for the next Minecraft

Sep 16, 2014

The staggering $2.5 billion that Microsoft has just shelled out for Minecraft and its quirky graphics will be foremost in developers' minds at the Tokyo Game Show this week, where simple yet immersive games ...

Recommended for you

US company sells out of Ebola toys

Oct 17, 2014

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

Social trust eroded in Chinese product-tampering incident

Oct 14, 2014

For about a decade, Chinese consumers weren't getting what they paid for when they purchased Wuchang, a special brand of gourmet rice that has a peculiar scent. The quality was being diluted when less expensive rice was aromatized, ...

The 2014 Nobel Prizes at a glance

Oct 13, 2014

(AP)—All winners of the 2014 Nobel Prizes have now been announced, starting with the medicine award a week ago and ending with the economics prize on Monday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

inquilinekea
not rated yet Feb 27, 2009
Hey does anyone have any links for more information on this? The lead investigator doesn't even have a website :( plz send info to simfish@gmail.com thanks!