You are who you play you are: Modeling Player Traits from Video Game Behavior

Shoshannah Tekofsky

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    You are who you play you are - especially when it comes to your age and your motivations.

    People say age is only a number, but it's a number we can guess pretty accurately from how someone plays video games. We find that younger people are favored by speed, while older people are favored by wisdom. There is even a sweet spot where it all comes together around 20 years of age. At least, as far as game performance goes among 13,000 players of a shooter game like Battlefield 3.

    When we look at gaming motivation, the picture becomes more intricate. We found that motivations show through in game behavior as well. Specifically, we developed a 13-factor model that measures gaming motivation across achievement-, social-, and immersion-related drives. It is shown that these motivations line up with game preference, age, gender, and personality, in a sample of 3000 players of World of Warcraft (multiplayer fantasy game), League of Legends (multiplayer arena fighting game), and Battlefield (multiplayer shooter game) players. A lot of intuitions were confirmed: Males show more competition motivation than females, while females show more drive for customization (making aesthetic choices); All 13 gaming motivations decrease with age; People who are more sociable in real life are also more interested in socializing in video games; Shooter players are more excitement, competition, and team work driven; MMORPG players prefer story, customization, and socializing.

    So, what can data like this tell us? It all comes down to figuring out the potential of video games as the next profiling tools. Video game behavior is simply human behavior in a digital realm. Tracking and analyzing that behavior is the digital equivalent of a psychologist doing a personalized observational study on you. The difference is that video game worlds limit your behavior: You get a fixed set of options to choose from, and that's it. With time, that set of actions is going to get bigger and bigger. Video games will offer a space where we can act in more complicated and expressive ways. And with each step along that road, we will get closer and closer to revealing our identities through our game play behavior. This research was one of the first explorations down that road.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Tilburg University
    • Spronck, Pieter, Promotor
    • Postma, Eric, Promotor
    • Bach, J., Member PhD commission, External person
    • Canossa, A., Member PhD commission, External person
    • Drachen, A., Member PhD commission, External person
    • Heylen, D.K.J., Member PhD commission, External person
    Award date19 Jun 2017
    Place of PublicationS.l.
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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