Online gaming is a relatively new concept, yet due to the millions of followers these games have attracted over the past decade; it is not difficult to deduce that they are not going away any time soon. Individuals use the Internet for many things, including news, email, shopping, instant messaging and entertainment (gaming) (Griffiths, et al., 2003; Yee, 2006a; 2006b). Millions of these same individuals play Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) as their source of entertainment. These players interact socially within the game with one another, many on a daily basis, and spend huge amounts of time doing so. During these long hours, research has shown that many of these players form relationships and some of these relationships lead to real life relationships (Cole & Griffiths, 2007; Yee, 2006b). Many of these individuals consider these online relationships equal to their offline relationships (Ng & Wiemer-Hastings, 2005). It is suggested that these players are introverted and lack social interaction; however, some believe that using the Internet in this manner is equivalent to offline face to face social interaction. Many lose track of the time while playing MMORPGs and when engaging in other online activities, and some of these individuals experience symptoms related to loneliness (Ng & Wiemer-Hastings, 2005). Therefore, previous research suggests there is a relationship between Online Gaming, Personality, and Interpersonal Relationships. This study was designed to examine relationships between personality characteristics and amount of time playing a popular game called World of Warcraft (WoW). Additionally, this study examined how motivations to play the game are related to personality characteristics, preference for online interpersonal interaction, and social anxiety.
A Demographics Questionnaire including age, country of residence, sex, occupation, employment status and other information about their online game playing was used. Additionally, the M5-50 Personality Inventory (McCord, 2002) was used as a short measure of the participant’s personality traits, collected through a fifty item scale which resulted in scores for the five domains of: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness. The participants also completed the Preference for Online Social Interaction Questionnaire (Caplan, 2003) which is a 4 item measure of the individual’s preference for online vs. offline face to face social interaction. The items were summed for a total score with higher scores representing preference for online social interaction. Motivations for Play Questionnaire (Yee, 2006a), which measures activities the participant engages in while online, which MMORPGs they play, the amount of time spent playing the specified MMORPG per week, and activities they are involved in while playing the MMORPG. The scale consisted of 40 questions which participants answered using a five point response scale then the individual items were summed into each of the primary components. Finally, the Interaction Anxiousness Scale (IAS), a measure of social anxiety was completed by the participants. The scale consisted of 15 items which participants answered based on a five point Likert-type scale. Scores were summed and overall higher scores on the scale reflect higher levels of social anxiety.
The study included 381 participants who were recruited from the Internet sites where WoW players frequently post and read messages. The participants were 88% male and 12% female and the range of participants’ ages was 18 to 69 years, with a mean of 24.29 years. Participants were actually engaged in playing the MMORPG “World of Warcraft”. The median amount of time spent playing WoW per week was 16 to 20 hours.
A small, positive correlation was found between the amount of time spent playing WoW and Neuroticism and a small, negative correlation between of time spent playing WoW and Extraversion. Examination of the relationships between achievement motivation to play and Openness to Experience and Conscientiousness found small, negative correlations between achievement motivation to play and Openness to Experience and Conscientiousness with higher levels of motivation to play associated with lower levels of Openness to Experience and Conscientiousness. An examination of the relationship between social motivation to play, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Openness to Experience found small, positive relationships between social motivation to play and Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Openness to Experience. The relationship between immersion motivation to play and Extraversion, Conscientiousness, and Openness to Experience was investigated which found small, negative relationships between immersion motivation to play and Extraversion and Conscientiousness; and a small, positive relationship between immersion motivation to play and Openness to Experience. Finally, the relationship between the preference for online social interaction and the interactive anxiousness scale was investigated resulting in a moderate to strong, positive relationship, with higher levels of preference for online social interaction associated with higher levels of interactive anxiousness.