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.


How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Grind

William Murphy over at pushes back at the grind in MMOs, especially when you get to the endgame,

Games like WoW are designed brilliantly to keep us playing and entertained as long as possible.  It used to be that character progress in MMOs was incredibly slow.  But WoW changed that.  They made leveling an easy climb to the top.  Finally it seemed like a company understood that it didn’t need to keep us moving slowly along to keep us paying… and then we hit the level cap and found out what we needed to do for our class armor sets.  The process has been simplified these days sure enough, but 400 Frost Emblems for Tier 10 armor is still no drop in the hat.  You’ll still be repeating the same content over and over to achieve your goals, and that’s just the course of action Blizzard hopes you’ll take.

And that, for me, is when the fun stops.

No more do I play MMOs for the gear.  I don’t care about the payoff.  If it’s a grind, I avoid it.  And here, I define “grind” as something bland that I must do repeatedly for a pittance of reward.  If I’m playing a game where the only way to progress is through mindlessly slaying mobs because I’ve run out of actual questing content to partake in, I stop playing.  If I am told the only way to get the game’s best weapon or armor is by repeating this content over and over again, then I don’t try to obtain that item.  It’s my very own MMO credo.

Personally, I’ve stopped worrying and learned to love the grind, especially when it comes wrapped in such an interesting package as it does in World of Warcraft. The nice thing about WoW is that you can take it or leave it when grinding.

I know people, for example, who run high end raid content over and over and have gear far better than I’ll ever get. I know others who simply stop playing a toon once they reach the level cap.

Personally, I think what WoW does right is that there are multiple grinds. You could spend all your time repeating the same raid content. Or you could focus on the PVP content. Or focus on any number of other goals that require endlessly repeating the same task over and over.

Or — and this will sound crazy — why not go back and forth between the two? Some days, I’ll spend hours running the same dungeon over and over again. Then, the next day — I’m flying around mining and fishing about playing the Auction House. Then maybe a few days off and I’m back doing world PVP for the fun of it.

WoW is definitely on the theme park end of the MMO continuum, but the variety and sheer number of things there are to do at the end game mean it doesn’t have to get boring if you decided to play the game rather than letting it play you. It’s a shame so few MMOs have the variety that WoW has at the endgame.

Pocket Legends – An MMO for the iPod/iPhone/iPad

Space Time Studios’ Pocket Legends is a scaled-down free to play MMO for the iPod/iPhone/iPad.

It offers three basic classes, along with typical MMO feature such as leveling, upgradeable stats and skills, etc.

It has been getting very good initial reviews. Space Time’s free to play model seems to be selling additional content/areas beyond the initial area for a fee, though at the moment there isn’t much available at all for purchase for the game.

Nice, and clearly just the beginning of the transition of MMOs to mobile devices (along with the increasingly prevalent mobile enhancement of traditional PC-based MMOs).

Mythic Completely Screws Up Billing for Warhammer Online

I stopped playing Warhammer Online a few months after launch, and that is apparently a good thing as Mythic mistakenly charged some accounts hundreds and hundreds of dollars for their April billing cycle. In an official announcement of the screwup,

As you may be aware, recently some customer accounts were billed multiple times unintentionally. We regret any difficulty this event may have caused you, and we remain dedicated to resolving the issue with our vendors and customers.

As of now we have received confirmation that the charges have been reversed. Depending on your financial institution and when they deposit the refunded charges back to your account it may take up to 3 business days for this refund to be reflected in your statement.  To ensure a fast resolution we recommend you contact your financial institution first. For additional information on what you can do and how to seek additional assistance see this post.

Of course reversing charges is nice, but reversing the charges won’t reverse overdraft fees for people who used debit cards for their account. A sample from a forum thread from users who got this lovely surprise,

My account I pay my sub from was billed today for over 500 dollars in 16 dollar increments. the account was overdrawn and with fees and overbilling it was 562.73 total.

And this rather sad post,

22 times on one account, i know you guys will debit the money back into my checking account eventually.  I am only a little worried that you will not do this.  I do have the same question though, how is it that the money was taken out when we shouldn’t have been billed yet.

also what do i tell my daughter since it is her bday?  I had x amount of dollars aside for her party but due to your billing my account after i paid my monthly bills and had 500 paid for taxes yesterday there is nothing left in

pickles account.

what do i tell her?   :smileysad:

The grinch stole your birthday sweetheart, it will be ok we still have each other

Another user posted a screenshot of his checking account getting slammed by Mythic (click on graphic to see it at full resolution),

That is some serious fail there. I can’t imagine there won’t be some serious lawsuits over that.

Edward Castronova on the Rise of RMTs in MMOs

Edward Castronova has a peculiar post on what he sees as the end of resistance to real-money trades in MMOs.

Castronova sites a study finding that people who want to role-play within MMOs are a decidedly small minority, and then concludes from this that RMTs are inevitable since, apparently, the only argument against RMTs was that they break the immersion that role-players want from a game.

As Fairfield notes, it is becoming weird now to insist on an RMT-free gaming experience. I freely trade money for time all day, every day. The community here in Bloomington finds this utterly normal and so does the most of the community in Azeroth. As devs will argue, they don’t make all this stuff for free; they have to get paid somehow, and given the general disinterest of their players in pure refuge, there is quite a lot of give along the immersion / cash spectrum. How can I oppose RMT?

But these events are worth noting from a social theory perspective: Even such strongly framed alternative environments have had little effect on the way people act. The fact that people do NOT role-play, that they do NOT treat dragons as monsters, the fact that they do NOT treat evil as Evil and good as Good, nor kings as Kings nor quests as Quests, the fact that if they change at all it is only to revert to strategies of mooning the whole world just for the adolescent joy of it (which, I respectfully and lovingly submit, turned out to be a special devotion of my gameplaying colleagues in academia), seems to reject social construction theories. Drop a society of 20th century people into World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online, and you get a masked ball, only: A thoroughly unremarkable 20th-century society playing around with high-fantasy costumes. You cannot remake a people by changing the world in which they live.

What I don’t get about this is why Castronova and others would prefer to establish multiple identities (at a minimum, a real world identity and a virtual identity) but then restrict that virtual identity to just a single mode of interaction. Since MMOs involve dealing with multiple identities at the outset, it seems inevitable that rather than be constricted by some artificial restriction on identity (which is already an omnipresent feature of the “real world” for many of us), players would want to take both varying approaches over time to their virtual identity.

I see no conflict at all between logging on to World of Warcraft and roleplaying one moment, making a crude joke in the Trade Channel the next, and discussing some real world event that my guildies and I happen to have in common. In fact it seems kind of strange that Castronova and others would see as desirable a strict adherence to just the first identity given that MMOs tend to give players tools to easily manage multiple in-game identities.

So I don’t see how RMT transactions in-game detract from the immersiveness, anymore than does the fact that each month a $14.99 charge appears on my credit card, or that I have to boot up into Windows first before launching a game.