Trinity University Survey of Wizard 101 Players

Back in March 2011, Trinity University conducted an anonymous survey of 30,000 Wizard 101 players and reported some of its results in May. Press release with results below, but nothing too surprising to people who actually play MMOs and other computer games. Hopefully, Trinity will release more complete survey results soon. (BTW, I tried playing Wizard 101 with my son, but I despise games that use a collectible card mechanic for combat.)

Trinity University Researchers Reveal Initial Findings

PLANO, Texas (May 9, 2011) — Communication researchers from Trinity University, in conjunction with online game developer and publisher KingsIsle Entertainment, today revealed initial high-level findings from an extensive anonymous survey of more than 30,000 Wizard101 player volunteers. Conducted in March 2011, the survey focused on intergenerational play within the online game Wizard101 and asked questions regarding online play habits and opinions related to families playing the game together. Key findings:

  1. Intergenerational play is an important and emerging dimension within online games.
    1. Many families (children, parents and grandparents) are not only playing games together online, but they report being brought closer together by playing them.
  2. Many creative communities have emerged from online games; this is particularly evident in Wizard101.
    1. Players report building on the foundational narrative of Wizard101 to imagine their own stories and create works of art.
  3. Many parents report their children learn valuable academic and social skills from playing.
    1. Survey respondents indicate that playing Wizard101 teaches skills such as reading, math, goal-setting, and time and financial management.
    2. Survey responses indicate players are learning to value teamwork, cooperation, and interactions with other cultures.
  4. Players of all ages report learning more about family members when playing together.


“This is one of the largest studies of online game players conducted to date,” said Dr. Aaron Delwiche, Associate Professor of Communication at Trinity University. “We were particularly impressed by the willingness of players to elaborate their opinions in answers to open-ended questions.”
“Wizard101 players of all ages enjoy the game, and for many different reasons: from meeting friends to learning math to talking to grandma in the next state,” said Dr. Jennifer Henderson, Associate Professor of Communication at Trinity University.
“This study demonstrates clearly that the stereotype of the dysfunctional, male teen gamer no longer holds,” said the researchers. “At any time during the game, your teammate could be a kid, a neighbor, or a grandparent.”
“I’m particularly amazed by the amount of creativity that the survey suggests is inspired by games like Wizard101,” said Fred Howard, vice president of marketing at KingsIsle Entertainment. “At a time when school budgets across the country are being cut, I think it’s more important than ever to be aware that certain online games have the potential to sharpen critical thinking, bring families together and inspire creative expression.”


  1. Researchers surveyed over 30,000 Wizard101 players between the ages of 5 and 95. This is one of the largest studies of online gamers conducted to date.
  2. The study spanned five generations: post-Millennials (age 10 and younger), Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation.


  1. 60% of responding children play Wizard101 with other family members; one-third of those children play with their parents or grandparents.
  2. 68% of responding adults play Wizard101 with other family members; approximately two-thirds of those adults play with their children or grandchildren.
  3. When asked what games they play with other family members, participants reported, in descending order, Wizard101, console games, board games, and card games.


  1. 20% of adult respondents engaged in some sort of additional creative activity related to the game. Blogging about the game was the most frequently mentioned activity, but many respondents also said that they created Wizard101 themed artwork and Wizard101 themed videos.
  2. 54% of child respondents engaged in some sort of additional creative activity related to the game. Within this group, 56% of children have created original Wizard101 themed artwork, 43% have created stories about the game and its characters, 25% have blogged about the game, 21% have created their own videos related to the game, and 19% have created original comics about the game.


  1. 45% of respondents to whom the question was posed felt that they had learned something about their family members by playing the game with them. For example, in open-ended responses, many participants were impressed by the way their family members demonstrated teamwork and cooperation in the game. “This really tells me how they go at the everyday problems in their lives,” said one player.
  2. 55% of respondents to whom the question was posed felt that they had learned things from Wizard101. In open-ended responses, participants suggested that Wizard101 taught skills such as reading, math, goal-setting, and time and financial management. Others mentioned that they thought players were learning to value teamwork, cooperation, and interactions with other cultures.

Wizard101 players were eligible to participate in the survey if they either maintained an active paid membership to the game, or purchased Crowns (Wizard101’s in-game currency) in the last 30 days.


Realm of the Mad God

Lately the XBOX and WoW accounts around my house have been ignored for the awesomely retro Realm of the Mad God, which plays like a multiplayer Rogue-like arcade game.

You start the game with a lowly level 1 wizard and pretty much just run around the map and shoot mobs, steal their loot, gain experience, and try to stay alive. The game features a Rogue-like permadeth — once you’re dead, you’re dead (and this will happen to you a lot). Hook up with other players to take on tougher enemies as you work your way up toward the level 20 cap.

There are quite a few classes that you need to unlock in-game. For example, the priest class only opens up once you’ve reached level 5 with your wizard.

The game is free, but funded by micro-transactions. You buy gold which you can then use to buy in-game items like dye to change the color of your character’s outfit. The only thing I can imagine spending money on is character slots. With the basic game, you have just a single character slot. Each additional character slot is currently $5.

Realm of the Mad God is like the best games I’ve played — very simple to play yet it remains captivating and compelling far longer than it should have based on the game’s premises.

In Profundis – Cellular Automata-Driven Cave Exploration Game

In Profundis is a Kickstarter-funded game that has the player exploring a giant cave on an alien world.

The game uses cellular automation to simulate its world.  Liquids flow, gases spread, boulders roll, fires spread, plants grow and walls crack and crumble.  Other games, notably three that involve exploring underground caverns, use CA techniques: the classic Atari 800 puzzle game Boulder Dash (which directly inspired the behavior of the boulders here), and the recent indie hits Dwarf Fortress and Minecraft.  Another game that bears some similarity, at least in the operation of its engine, is the “Falling Sand” Java game.  However, In Profundis’ CA system will be rather more complex than most of these (except maybe for Dwarf Fortress — Tarn Adams is a genius).  The fact that it’s 2D helps in this regard; it greatly decreases the amount of calculation needed for each frame.

The developer posted a YouTube video demonstrating his vision for the game: