Two New Studies Using World of Warcraft from Colorado University

April 6, 2011 -

Two new Colorado State University studies examines the potential positive effects of video games using world of Warcraft as its testing grounds. The studies explore how video game players can become deeply involved in their games to the point where they may block out the "external environment" and temporarily feel that their play environment is as vivid and important as the real world. Researchers at Colorado State University say that such "absorptive experiences" can be positive ones, providing important mental health benefits.

Two studies recently published by Jeffrey Snodgrass, associate professor of anthropology at Colorado State, examine different types of video gaming experiences and the effects they can have on players’ lives, including their levels of stress, satisfaction and happiness. In both studies, Snodgrass and his research team examined the popular online game, World of Warcraft.

In the first study, "Magic Flight and Monstrous Stress: Technologies of Absorption and Mental Wellness in Azeroth," Snodgrass and his team defined the experiences players have as "immersive or absorptive." These "altered states" can cause both negative and positive effects. Players' out-of-game habits and levels of distress, as well as their in-game play-styles, often determine the nature of such effects.

In addition to their own in-game observations, the research team conducted surveys and interviewed World of Warcraft players to learn more about their gaming habits. For the survey, they developed a set of game specific psychological scales to measure how absorbed players become while playing the game. Many players reported that playing World of Warcraft serves as a stress or tension reliever. Players who became more absorbed in the game reported more stress relief.

"The idea is that if you lose yourself, you escape," Snodgrass said. "So it’s deeply relaxing, what some gamers describe as akin to meditation, or at other times positively challenging and stimulating, like a great chess match where you’re actually one of the pieces, and we show that there are strong associations between these various states of consciousness and the game’s health benefits. But it is important to note that the escape must be controlled and temporary to be positive, so that it leads to rejuvenation rather than simple problem avoidance, which in the end only increases the experience of stress."

Many video game studies focus on the negative aspects of gaming. Snodgrass hopes that people will start to understand that addiction is only one side of video game usage and that his recent studies indicate that video game playing can be healthy.

"But we want to be careful to present a balanced portrait of online gaming," Snodgrass said. "Our study does show that in other instances players get drawn in too much and they enjoy losing themselves too greatly. That can contribute to problematic play and what some researchers even call online gaming addiction."

The second study is called "Enhancing One Life Rather Than Living Two: Playing MMOs with Offline Friends." It focuses on the differences between playing video games with individuals known outside of the game and playing with people met online.

Snodgrass determined that playing with offline friends (friends who are friends in real life) is healthier, because they can help regulate game play. Playing with real friends also allows players to transfer their positive gaming experiences into their real lives. Playing with real friends also makes it more difficult to have those immersive experiences, Snodgrass claims, which can be positive or negative.

"If it’s harder to immerse, that’s a double-edged sword," Snodgrass said. "You’re losing some benefits of playing such as reducing stress and tension, but you’re also losing some potential for addiction."

Snodgrass’ research team included Michael G. Lacy and Jesse Fagan, CSU Department of Sociology; David E. Most, CSU School of Education; and H.J. Francois Dengah, University of Alabama, Department of Anthropology. Both articles are currently available online.


Comments

Re: Two New Studies Using World of Warcraft from Colorado ...

This says the studies are posted on-line, but no URL or journal name was provided.  Anyone know where they can be found?

Re: Two New Studies Using World of Warcraft from Colorado ...

Something positive coming from World of Warcraft?

This is news, indeed.

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MaskedPixelantehttp://m.tickld.com/x/something-you-never-realized-about-guardians-of-the-galaxy Right in the feels.08/29/2014 - 6:56pm
AvalongodAgain I think we're conflating the issue of whether Sarkeesian's claims are beyond critique (no they're not) and whether its ever appropriate to use sexist language, let alone physical threats on a woman to intimidate her (no it isn't)08/29/2014 - 5:04pm
prh99Trolling her or trying to assail her integrity just draws more attention (Streisand effect?). Which is really not what the trolls want, so the only way to win (if there is a win to be had) is not to play/troll.08/29/2014 - 5:02pm
prh99Who cares, just don't watch the damn videos if you don't like her. Personally, I don't care as far as she is concerned as long there are interesting games to be played.08/29/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenZip - And yet, you can't cite a single, solitary example. (And no one said you hated anyone. Along those lines, no one claimed Sarkeesian was perfect either.)08/29/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSaint's Row: Gat Out of Hell was just announced for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One making it the 150th game For Everything But Wii U! Congratulations Deep Silver!08/29/2014 - 3:49pm
ZippyDSMleeI do not hate them jsut think its mostly hyperlobe.08/29/2014 - 3:40pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - I'd say that's likely. From my experience, most who have a problem with Sarkeesian's videos either want to hate them in the first place (for whatever reason) or honestly misunderstand what they're about and what they're saying.08/29/2014 - 3:16pm
james_fudgeWe appreciate your support :)08/29/2014 - 2:55pm
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TechnogeekI just want to say that while I've disagreed with the staff of this site on several occasions, it's still good to see that they're not automatically dismissing Anita's videos as a "misandrist scam" or whatever the preferred dismissive term is these days.08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
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Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
Andrew EisenAmusingly, these videos aren't saying you can't/shouldn't use tropes or that sexual representations are inherently problematic so those are very silly things to have a problem with and indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the series.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
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SleakerThe other thing that people might find problematic is that they see no problem with sexual representations of females (or males) in games. And realistically, why is there anything wrong with sexual representations in fiction?08/29/2014 - 12:24pm
 

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