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Stereotypes and Individual Differences in Role-playing Games

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Because of the endurance of stereotypes about role-playing gamers, much research has been carried out which provides evidence to contradict the stereotype's prevailing misconceptions. This paper aims to investigate this existing research into the individual differences in those who play role-playing games and provide a comprehensive review of research in the areas of demographics, interests, personality and identity as they pertain to gamers. The goal will be to investigate the extent to which the common perception of game-players stands up under investigation. The paper will also attempt to refute some of the more extreme and outrageous claims which have been made in relation to role-playing games – particularly those which involve crime, violence, murders, suicides and Satanism. The article will also examine child's play and role-playing games in order to illustrate the importance of this style of imaginary play for identity development for both children and adults. The stereotypical image of role-playing gamers depicts them as anti-social male teenagers who are largely more interested in technology than in their own personal appearance, believing that they are highly intelligent and imaginative, passionate about topics which are uninteresting to their peers, The emerging image of a gamer is that of an individual who does not necessarily fit into the stereotypical demographic. and consequently persecuted by some of these peers. Through an examination of the research carried out in this area, the emerging image of a gamer is in fact that of an individual who does not necessarily fit into the stereotypical demographic of being a young male, and who is actively involved in developing his or her own personality and identity through participation in the games and also within the social networks that are often framed by these games.
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
Stereotypes and Individual Differences
in Role-playing Games
Popular Abstract - Because of the endurance of stereotypes about role-playing gamers, much research
has been carried out which provides evidence to contradict the stereotype’s prevailing
misconceptions. This paper aims to investigate this existing research into the individual differences in
those who play role-playing games and provide a comprehensive review of research in the areas of
demographics, interests, personality and identity as they pertain to gamers. The goal will be to
investigate the extent to which the common perception of game-players stands up under
investigation. The paper will also attempt to refute some of the more extreme and outrageous claims
which have been made in relation to role-playing games particularly those which involve crime,
violence, murders, suicides and Satanism. The article will also examine child’s play and role-playing
games in order to illustrate the importance of this style of imaginary play for identity development for
both children and adults.
The stereotypical image of role-playing gamers depicts them as anti-social male teenagers who are
largely more interested in technology than in their own personal appearance, believing that they are
highly intelligent and imaginative, passionate about topics which are uninteresting to their peers, and
consequently persecuted by some of these peers. Through an examination of the research carried out in
this area, the emerging image of a gamer is in fact that of an individual who does not necessarily fit into
the stereotypical demographic of being a young male, and who is actively involved in developing his or
her own personality and identity through participation in the games and also within the social networks
that are often framed by these games.
Noirin Curran
University College Cork
Because of the endurance of stereotypes about role-
playing gamers, much research has been carried
out which provides evidence to contradict the
stereotype’s prevailing misconceptions. This paper
aims to investigate this existing research into the
individual differences in those who play role-
playing games and provide a comprehensive
review of research in the areas of demographics,
interests, personality and identity as they pertain to
gamers. The goal will be to investigate the extent to
which the common perception of game-players
stands up under investigation. The paper will also
attempt to refute some of the more extreme and
outrageous claims which have been made in
relation to role-playing games – particularly those
which involve crime, violence, murders, suicides
and Satanism. The article will also examine child’s
play and role-playing games in order to illustrate
the importance of this style of imaginary play for
identity development for both children and adults.
The stereotypical image of role-playing gamers
depicts them as anti-social male teenagers who are
largely more interested in technology than in their
own personal appearance, believing that they are
highly intelligent and imaginative, passionate
about topics which are uninteresting to their peers,
The emerging image of a gamer is
that of an individual who does not
necessarily fit into the stereotypical
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2 International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
and consequently persecuted by some of these
peers. Through an examination of the research
carried out in this area, the emerging image of a
gamer is in fact that of an individual who does not
necessarily fit into the stereotypical demographic
of being a young male, and who is actively
involved in developing his or her own personality
and identity through participation in the games
and also within the social networks that are often
framed by these games.
A Role-Playing Game (RPG) is a game in which the
participants assume a character role and determine
that character’s actions, within a specific scenario,
with agreed rules, played individually or in a
group, with or without a mediator, and where the
outcome is without definite limits as of duration or
In 1974, the genre of Role-Playing Games came into
being with the publication of the “world’s first
role-playing game” (Mackay 2001) – Gygax &
Arneson’s Dungeons & Dragons (1974). The game
emerged from a background of war-games and
fantasy-based fiction such as the works of J.R.R.
Tolkien (King & Borland 2003; Mackay 2001; Schick
1991). The popularity of the genre is attested by the
fact that this earliest example is currently (in 2010)
in a fourth edition.
In the intervening years, role-playing games have
expanded into a range of different formats,
advancing onto computers as both purely text
based programs (MUDs) and Massively
Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games
(MMORPGs) with intricately designed Graphical
User Interfaces, and into other forms such as games
played through the post (play-by-mail), and Live
Action Role-Playing (LARP), although many
people still play the original table-top format role-
playing Game (Mackay 2001). In fact, one study
found that the table-top format still outranked its
more digital descendants in terms of enjoyment
(Tychsen et al. 2007).
The purpose of RPGs has expanded, as their format
has evolved, and apart from their primary
functions of enjoyment and entertainment, role-
playing games are often used for training and
educational purposes, to develop skills and
strategies, or to allow participants to cooperate
with others on tasks as part of a team (Tychsen et
al. 2007; Law.Com 2009; White 2007). As expected,
while their formats and purposes have expanded,
so have their user-base, and role-playing games are
presently played by millions of people worldwide
every day: Blizzard Entertainment (2008) claim that
an estimated 11 million plus individuals are
involved in playing the most popular of the online
version of role-playing games, World of Warcraft,
and this is merely one of the many different RPGs
As such, the production and sale of computer
games is a multi-billion dollar industry, with the
ESA (2009) providing figures for computer and
video game software sales as reaching $11.7 billion
during 2008. It is thought that, on average, 9 games
were purchased every second of every day in
America during 2008, a quadrupling of sales since
1996 (ESA 2009). Within these sales, the genre of
‘role-playing games’ or RPGs has been found to
account for 5.4% of all video games sales and 19.6%
of all computer games sales in the USA.
Similarly, Internet use has increased exponentially
in recent times. By the year 2002, approximately
600 million people had access to the internet
(Manasian 2003), and today this number has grown
to over 1.7 billion internet users worldwide
(Internet Usage Statistics 2009). Owing to the
advent of widespread internet access and game
availability, it is no surprise that online role-
playing games have expanded further than ever
Despite the undeniable popularity of the role-
playing game, no agreement has yet been reached
on a formal definition of the term, perhaps owing
to the wide variety of different types of RPG and
the many formats and platforms in which they
exist. This is not to say that definitions have not
been proposed: numerous definitions of role-
playing games have been put forward (Hitchens &
Drachen 2009), yet no consensus has yet been
reached in the academic community.
In the quest for a definition, role-playing gaming
has often been seen as being based on a largely
qualitative process (likened to a social process),
rather than a quantitative, measurable, formal
game system (Montola 2008). This, however, has
Owing to the advent of widespread
internet access and game availability,
it is no surprise that online role-
playing games have expanded further
than ever before.
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2 International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
made the game-play quite difficult to investigate,
and the difference has been described by Montola
as carrying out a straightforward analysis of the
rules laid out for a formal game system such as
Poker, and then including the almost infinite
number of extra possibilities that are added with
the influence of the social aspect of the game such
as bluffing. Many researchers agree that a role-
playing game must involve rules of some type,
either spoken or unspoken; however there are still
some who disagree with this, asserting that RPGs
have no static rules (Juul 2003).
One research group’s definition describes RPGs as
being “created in the interaction between players
or between player(s) and games master(s) within a
specified diegetic framework” (Hakkarainen, &
Stenros 2002). Diegesis is the telling of a story
through narration, as opposed to a story being
shown and enacted, which seems applicable to
RPGs given that they have occasionally been
described in terms of “collaborative
storytelling” (Padol 1996). Critics of this definition
disagree that a diegetic framework is suitable to
describe this type of game in its entirety (Montola
2008) and an application of this can be seen, for
example, in the proposed structure of role-playing
games which includes a game level and a social
level, as well as the diegetic level (Fine 1983).
Work on a formal, accepted definition of role-
playing games is on-going.
1.1 Stereotypes: Who plays Role-Playing
With the increase in diversity of role-playing
games, they have equally grown in popularity
during this period (ESA 2009). RPGs have emerged
into the modern era as sophisticated phenomena
which is now embedded in popular culture
(Mackay 2001), having both influenced and been
influenced by the media, literature and particularly
films and television. While gaming has gone from
strength to strength over the years, what can be
said of the individuals who are involved in the
From early on in the conception of these games,
there has been an enduring stereotype of role-
players as being ‘nerdy’ (Lægran & Stewart 2003;
Ruzycki-Shinabarger 2002; Tocci 2007). Individuals
who engage in the action of playing a role-playing
game are regularly portrayed by the media
(particularly in film and television) as being
unpopular, and have also been labelled, both in the
media and by peers, as ‘nerds’, ‘dorks’ and ‘geeks’
amongst other things (Kinney 1993). “Gamers and
Computer enthusiasts” are seen as belonging to a
community which is characterised as
“Nerdy” (Lægran & Stewart 2003) and generally
existing within the demographic of white, male
youths (King & Borland 2003).
The implication of any stereotype is that there are
specific attributes which define all individuals as
part of that group. The clinical psychologist David
Anderegg (2007) has laid out the foundations of
‘nerdiness’ as follows:
”(a) unsexy, (b) interested in technology, (c)
uninterested in their personal appearance, (d)
enthusiastic about stuff that bores everyone else,
and (e) persecuted by nonnerds who are sometimes
known as jocks.”
The ‘nerdy’ stereotype at its extreme can portray
those involved as believing that they are highly
intelligent and with a good imagination, well-
educated with extremely detailed knowledge about
specific unusual hobbies or topics, with strong
feelings for-or-against war, and very poor social
skills, tending to disregard social norms (Fine
In the media of the eighties and nineties, however,
role-playing games gained some hostile attention
and were occasionally depicted as causing players
to become involved in criminal activity. Branch
(1998) presents a list of news articles in which
games have been used as scapegoats for a range of
crimes – as a general rule, these cases involved the
perpetrator of a crime admitting that he played
Dungeons & Dragons or another role-playing game.
On occasion, even more serious matters such as
murders and suicides have also been claimed by
the media and certain religious fundamentalists to
have emerged from involvement in role-playing
games (Schnoebelen, n.d.). Some more outrageous
criticism also proposes a link between RPGs and
involvement in satanic cults and even claims that
by playing Dungeons & Dragons, gamers may gain
the ability to cast “real” spells (Chick 1984). The
less extreme stereotype, one which is more
enduring than the above, portrays the gamer as a
teenage boy or a grown man, with poor social skills
and little interest in his personal appearance
(Anderegg 2007; King & Borland 2003; Williams
2003). The viability of these persistent stereotypes
will be investigated in terms of demographics,
interests, personality and identity.
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
1.2 Demographics
The stereotypical demographic of a gamer is of a
teenage boy – “mostly male, mostly young and
mostly white and middle class” (King & Borland
Indeed, one study carried out on a particular
fantasy role-playing MUD called Blue Sky found
that the majority of its typical players were actually
male, young, white and middle-class, adding to
this the finding that the majority of players of this
game were heterosexual (Kendall 1999). Williams
(2003) agreed with the classification of game
players as being male and young, adding to this
that they lack social skills and may have pale skin
owing to spending very little time outdoors. Douse
& McManus (1993) studied a particular fantasy
play-by-mail game and supported the idea that
players were more likely to be male, adding that
there was a tendency of gamers to be educated – a
factor that may reinforce the idea that players are
more likely to come from a middle-class
background (Kendall 1999, King & Borland 2003).
Taylor (2006) pointed out that the idea of gaming
as a male-dominated hobby is held, not only by
male gamers and the media, but also by women
who are involved with games, and who “hesitate
to call themselves gamers”.
Focussing on these studies, we can see a trend
emerge: there is agreement that the majority of
players are male, and almost unanimous consensus
that game players are young, and along with these
there is evidence that players may have a tendency
to be white, pale-skinned, middle-class, educated
and with poor social skills. However, since these
studies focused on very specific games, it is not
possible to generalize the result to the broader
population of gamers.
In contrast to these studies, however, recent
statistics from the Entertainment Software
Association (2009) indicate that, in the USA at least,
only 18% of gamers fit the description of the
average gamer as a teenage boy, while females over
the age of 18 appear to make up 34% of the gaming
market – this being absolutely contrary to the
gender aspect of the pre-existing studies. In fact,
although it is still perceived as a hobby which is
almost entirely dominated by male youths, almost
40% of all game players are women, and the
average age of those who play games is 35 years
(ESA 2009), up from 33 years in 2006 (ESA 2007).
This is a huge contrast to general observations in
the eighties where it was believed that the age of
gamers was actually decreasing (Smith 1980). In
terms of age, it has also been indicated that while
83% of teenagers engage in game-play and 67% of
teenagers play online games, 40% of adults are also
involved in some kind of game-play (Williams et
al. 2008) so it is not entirely exclusive to young
individuals. In contrast with the stereotype, the
same study found that the majority of players are
in their 30s (Mean: 31.16 years old), and more
players are in their 30s than in 20s or teens. The
gender difference and race difference, however,
holds up in this research, finding that 80.8% of
players are male, and that white Caucasians and
Native Americans have the highest rates of play.
The demographics based on race, class and
education have yet to be examined on this basis,
and would most certainly be worthy of further
An interesting study which investigates the online
game, and MMORPG, Everquest, compares
adolescent gamers against adult gamers, and finds
that there is a higher percentage of male gamers
(93.2%) in the adolescent sample than in the adult
sample (79.6%) (Griffiths et al. 2004a). It should be
noted, also, that this study had a significantly
larger sample size (n=540) than other
demographics studies cited here. One finding of
this study, which appeared to be particularly
incongruous when compared to related research,
indicated that almost one third of the adolescents
in the sample had left school before reaching 11
years of age. Another publication by the same
group (Griffiths et al 2004b) cites the percentage of
male game players to be 81%, and the mean age to
be 27%. Yee (2006) states that the age range for this
type of game – MMORPG – is 11 years to 68 years.
The stereotype of the game player involved some
basic demographic information – primarily that the
stereotypical gamer is young and male, from a
middle-class background and probably well-
educated. While a number of studies (Douse &
McManus 1993; Kendall 1999; King & Borland
2003; Smith 1980; Williams 2003) have backed up
this stereotypical image of a gamer, and added
other aspects such as a tendency towards
heterosexuality and lack of social skills, the claims
made by the Entertainment Software Association
(2007, 2009) from their survey based data largely
refute these stereotypical images of gamers. It
appears that the number of female gamers has
actually increased and is continuing to do so, and
also – contrary to Smith’s (1980) observations from
the eighties that the average age of gamers was
decreasing – it now appears that the trend has
turned around and the average age of gamers is
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
It must be noted, however, that although the earlier
demographic-based studies focussed on a few very
specific games and therefore are not generalisable
to the general role-playing population, the more
recent demographic data which comes from the
Entertainment Software Association (2007, 2009) is
based on a very broad spectrum of games,
including non-role-playing games and therefore is
also difficult to generalise to the population of role-
playing gamers. It would be beneficial to carry out
an investigation into the demographics of role-
playing gamers specifically, but focussing on a far
broader range of games which fit into the genre of
Individual Differences is an area of modern
psychology which investigates the ways in which
people are different from one other and the ways in
which they are similar, in their behaviour, their
thinking and emotions (Ellis 1928; Eysenck &
Eysenck 1985; Hampson & Colman 1995).
A stereotypical image of role-playing gamers
depicts them as lacking in social skills (Williams
2003), often coming across as shy and introverted
(Bainbridge 1976). On the contrary, Hall (1988)
found that playing fantasy Role-playing Games
actually caused an increased socialization of some
shy students as an incidental result of the improved
writing ability and vocabulary caused by the
games. A more recent study found that socialising
online, as opposed to offline, was preferable to 21%
of gamers (Hussain & Griffiths 2008); however, this
came from a study with significantly more male
participants than females in the sample so there
may be some bias. Bias or no, this is an interesting
result in that it may highlight the idea of role-
playing gamers as being conventionally
introverted, as they tend away from traditional
forms of socialising.
An investigation into the specific interests of
fantasy role-playing gamers found that those who
were highly involved in fantasy games were more
likely to describe themselves as being “scientific”,
and were more likely to include “playing with
computers” and “reading” as items in their list of
interests than the control group who were matched
with the gamers in terms of age, sex and level of
education (Douse & McManus 1993). As well as
this, gamers were cited as being less likely to
include “going to the cinema, theatre or concerts”
and “going to parties” as interests. This appears to
reinforce the stereotypical image of gamers as being
introverted and quite shy. There was a small
difference in personality found between the groups
in this study, although there is a possibility that this
difference could be of the same magnitude as the
difference present between any groups involved in
different hobbies.
Personality is defined as “the dynamic and
organized set of characteristics possessed by a
person that uniquely influences his or her
cognitions, motivations and behaviours in various
situations” (Ryckman 2004). There are many
different questionnaires currently used to create a
personality profile, and the research into
personality in Role-playing Games over the years
has employed a wide variety of these.
3.1 General Personality Traits
Many studies into Role-playing Games have used
Cattell’s 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF)
to create a personality profile of gamers. The 16PF
is a multiple choice questionnaire designed to
measure where an individual’s score lies in relation
to fundamental traits of the human personality
which include inter alia Openness to Change,
Emotional Stability, Warmth, Perfection and
Dominance. Originally, Cattell had 16 primary
traits that were developed through factor analysis
of everyday behaviour. However further factor
analysis was carried out on these 16 traits to
develop five global factors known as the Big Five
model – Openness, Conscientiousness,
Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism
(Goldberg 1990), and to some extent, the Big Five
has overtaken the earlier work (John et al. 2008).
Nonetheless, the 16PF has been utilized in many
studies of role-playing games with relatively
enduring results.
Simon (1987) was one of the first to attempt to
disprove the harmfulness of games such as
Dungeons & Dragons to their players. His study,
using the 16PF, was carried out with 68
participants, all of them game players but with no
control group. Simon’s aim in this study was to pay
particular attention to Factor C: Emotional Stability
and this yielded perfectly healthy personality
profiles with an increased level of Cattell’s factor
Q1, ‘Experimenting; Liberal; Freethinking’, as the
only unusual result.
Following his original study on the emotional
stability of those involved with Dungeons &
Dragons, Simon (1998) carried out Cattell’s 16PF on
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
24 participants who played the game Vampire: The
Masquerade, expecting to see a difference in the
Emotional Stability factor, but in this study the
increased level of factor Q1: ‘Experimenting;
Liberal; Freethinking’ of his previous study was
not replicated. The reason for this is unclear, but it
is suggested that it may be because of the more
modern world game setting.
Caroll and Carolin’s study (1989) did not focus
solely on RPGs, on this occasion the participants
were also involved in other genres of games,
although they again used the 16PF. Carrying out
these personality tests on 75 University Students,
they found gamers to be “normal” but also
demonstrated that the fantasy Role-playing gamers
scored higher on Cattell’s factor Q1 –
‘Experimenting; Liberal; Freethinking’. This
corresponds with the findings of Simon’s D&D
based study (1987), where participants also had a
higher level of factor Q1.
With the wide variety of scientifically validated
personality tests available today, it makes sense
that not all studies of RPGs used the 16PF to
examine personality. A survey-based study was
carried out by Yee (1999), with 100 participants
who played Role-playing Games and a control
group. This survey included an approximation of
three of Goldberg’s Big Five factor domain scales –
namely Extraversion, Agreeableness and
Openness. A significantly higher rating for
‘Openness to Experience’ was found for role-
playing gamers.
There is a similarity between 16PF Factor Q1
‘Experimenting; Liberal; Freethinking’ (as seen in
Carroll & Carolin 1989; Simon 1987 & 1998) and
Goldberg’s Big-5’s Factor ‘Openness to
Experience’ (as seen in Yee 1999), considering that
Goldberg’s Big-5 were originally derived from
Cattell’s 16PF. As such, it is not surprising that
Role-playing gamers have been shown to have
increased scores in both of these factors.
Douse & McManus (1993) looked at the personality
of fantasy game players using the Bem Sex Role
Inventory, Decision-Making Questionnaire,
Eysenck Personality Inventory and Davis’
Empathy Questionnaires. With 35 participants, 92%
of which were male, involved in a fantasy role-
playing play-by-mail style game and a matched
control group, Douse & McManus found any
analysis of sex difference to be impossible due to
the gender imbalance within the group studied.
They found that game players were involved in
playing 11.4 hours per week on average: almost
five times as long as the control group who played
for 2.5 hours per week. The study showed that
players were less feminine and less androgynous
on the Bem Sex Role Inventory than the control
group. Players were found to display significantly
lower scores of empathic concern on Davis’
Empathy Questionnaire, which is unusual because
high scores on this trait were reported as “prone to
anxiety and shyness”. There was, however, no
significant difference in scores on this
questionnaire for fantasy, perspective taking or
personal distress. Yee (1999) points out that he
finds this study to be biased owing to the fact that
computer/email preference is, here, confused with
role-playing games.
In 1990, DeRenard & Kline (1990) conducted an
investigation of 35 role-playing gamers who played
Dungeons & Dragons with a control group of 35
non-players, in which a questionnaire with the
anomia scale was employed. Individuals in the
control group reported having feelings of
‘meaninglessness’ and the researchers speculated
about whether their involvement with the game
gave players a sense of purpose. Game players
were found to have a slightly higher score in
“cultural estrangement” than the control group –
implying a lower awareness of popular
entertainment. It was noted, also, that those
participants who were more deeply involved in the
game (who spent more money on materials, and
more time playing, for example) had higher
reported feelings of alienation than the other
participants. These feelings of alienation could
warrant further investigation, although given the
small sample-size, it is currently not possible to
generalise the result to the population of gamers at
3.2 Neuroticism & Psychoticism
In a study undertaken by Carter & Lester (1998),
using the Eysenck Personality Inventory and Beck
Depression Inventory, involving participants who
played Dungeons & Dragons and a control group
of male undergraduate non-gamers, there was no
significant difference found to exist between the
gamers and the control group. No difference was
found between the two groups in mean scores on
depression, suicidal ideation, psychoticism,
extraversion or neuroticism.
Rosenthal et al. (1998) carried out a similar study
where they compared 54 Gamers with 64 non-
gamers – in this case, the non-gamers were national
guardsmen. The findings were that the
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
stereotypical gamer is male and has similar
numbers of close friends to the guardsmen. The
study failed to confirm the stereotype of a gamer as
“withdrawn, emotionally immature adolescents”
although gamers reported slightly longer time
spent sleeping and daydreaming than the
guardsmen. No difference was found in the
measure of Neuroticism between the two using a
separate neuroticism scale.
In the Douse & McManus (1993) study, cited
earlier, they used the Eysenck Personality
Questionnaire with 35 Gamer participants and 35
members of a control group and showed that
players were likely to be significantly more
introverted than the control group but no
difference was found for neuroticism or social
It is difficult to prove a negative, given the logic
which is an integral part of scientific hypothesis
testing – a study’s sample could have been badly
drawn, for instance, and this would affect the
results. Taking this into account, it is still important
to note that there have been three studies which
have replicated negative values for neuroticism for
their samples of gamers.
3.3 Crime, Violence & Cultic Practices
Implications regarding the supposed tendency of
role-players to extreme deviation from the norm as
regards crime, violence and cultic practices have
also been researched. There is a popular belief that
those who play games are more prone to criminal
behaviour, and these games have been portrayed in
the media as causing this disposition towards
violence and crime. Fine (1983) describes a
stereotype of fantasy role-playing gamers as well
as war-gamers, as exclusively having an interest in
war and killing.
While this belief had existed for many years, it
experienced a lot of media attention from 1999
onwards owing to the discovery that two American
high-school students who stormed their school and
shot 15 people in the so-called ‘Columbine High
School Massacre’ were also heavily involved in
computer games and in fact used one of their
favourite games to play out their rampage multiple
times before carrying it out in reality (King &
Borland 2003).
King and Borland describe the aftermath of this
discovery in detail. Following the revelation, a
surge of disapproval, criticism and “hostile
attention” affected the culture of gaming – as well
as the gamers themselves. Subsequently, attempts
were made to sue games designers and games
companies by families of the individuals affected
by the events at Columbine, as well as other similar
events which were perceived as being caused by
involvement with Role-playing Games. During
many of these cases, doctors appeared and gave
professional opinions about the detrimental effects
of games, without having carried out any medical
research in the area, and the media continued to
portray games as dangerous. Despite all this, the
cases were thrown out of court as the judges
declined to rule on them – but the damage had
been done and “the stigma had stuck” on the game
industry (King & Borland 2003).
Further criticisms of computer games caused the
industry to instigate a rating system for games so
that individuals – particularly parents – would be
informed about the content of games before
RPGs as a cause for criminal activity are more of a
historical myth at this stage, in the US, with no
evidence or court cases which have ruled to this
direction, and we should move beyond those
implications now. Violent video games are still
often touted by the media as being a cause for
crime and violent behaviour, but the spotlight has
moved beyond RPGs at this stage.
Abyeta & Forest (1991) began their research on the
then-popular belief that role-playing games caused
the players to be unable to distinguish between
fantasy and reality and individuals who played
regularly became involved in criminal behaviour.
Virtually no difference was found to exist between
role-players and non-role-players beyond that
psychoticism had a higher incidence in the non-
role-players than in role-players. This finding,
however, was not very reliable due to the very
small sample size – 20 gamers with a non-gamer
control group of 25 – which renders the findings
open to the possibility of sampling error.
As regards the extreme claims that gamers may be
involved in satanic practice (Bourget et al. 1998)
and demonic rituals, Leeds (1995) used the Eysenck
Personality Questionnaire on 217 adult male
participants to measure levels of psychoticism,
extraversion and neuroticism. There were three
groups of participants, those who played fantasy
role-playing games (n=66), those who were
involved in satanic dabbling (not fully committed
to Satanism) and were not involved in gaming
(n=26) and a control group of non-involved college
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
undergraduates (n=125). As well as Eysenck’s
Questionnaire, the participants were asked to
complete the Belief in the Paranormal Scale and the
Satanic and Fantasy Envelopment Scale (SAFE).
After carrying out a series of one-way ANOVA’S
and Pearson Correlations, there was found to be a
significant difference between fantasy gamers and
satanic dabblers in all of the measures used. This
evidence suggests that either the popular
hypothesis that role-playing games are a precursor
to players becoming involved in satanic practices is
incorrect, or that role-players who do become
engaged in satanic practices undergo a significant
personality change before doing so.
Schnoebelen (n.d.) lists 11 murders and suicides
which are claimed to be caused by involvement
with Dungeons & Dragons. One study (Carter &
Lester 1998) showed no difference in level of
suicide ideation, depression, neuroticism or
psychoticism between gamers and a control group
but such comparison can be easily biased by the
composition of the control group. Stackpole (1989)
investigated suicide rates of those involved with
role-playing games by calculating the expected
suicide rates per the gamer population, then, an
estimated 4 million players worldwide. The
estimated suicide rate for this population would be
500 individuals, per year. However, in his study,
Stackpole had documented only 7 suicides of game
players per year, and inferred that playing
Dungeons & Dragons appeared to cause a lower
suicide rate amongst the youth involved in it. He
also suggested that role-playing games could even
be used as a public health measure due to these
It should be noted that confirmation bias may play
a part in the tenacity of the media when it comes to
the detrimental effect of games on the players.
Confirmation bias (Klayton 1995), or confirmatory
bias, is a prejudiced way of looking at information,
and causes an individual “to seek and interpret
information in ways that are partial towards
existing beliefs” (Ask & Granhag 2005). Individuals
have this inclination towards favouring
information which stands to confirm a pre-existing
ideas and hypotheses, and interpreting information
in a prejudiced way, regardless of the truth of the
information in question.
Another example of this was seen in the media in
2001, where Microsoft’s Flight Simulator software,
designed for amateur enthusiasts, was depicted in
playing a major role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in
New York, as the perpetrators were said to have
used this software to practice their attack. The fact
that a small number of terrorists used this software
does not, by any stretch of the imagination, imply
that use of the software causes individuals to have
a tendency towards such crimes.
Identity is an individual’s sense of self, comprising
characteristics which make them distinct and
unique from others, and also characteristics which
correspond with others. Many different aspects
combine to create an individual’s sense of identity;
their gender, background, ethnicity, religion, self-
assessed personality characteristics and traits,
membership in groups such as family or non-
familial social groups, their perceived role in their
relationships, role at work, and their goals in life.
For each individual, these aspects may be seen
more strongly as part of the identity, or less so,
depending on the importance placed on each of
them by the individual. Identity is not fixed, it can
and does change and re-form many times during a
lifespan owing to changes in situation or
perspective and re-evaluation of values.
The most relevant types of identity, which
comprise the main body of work on identity with
respect to role-playing games, are personal identity,
social identity and gender identity.
4.1 Child’s Play and Identity Development
Through much of the research on child’s play in
the early years, certain themes recur often, namely
the presence and requirement of roles, rules and
imaginary situations as part of this type of play.
According to one group (Verenikina et al. 2003)
there is an essential characteristic in child’s play, “a
dimension of pretend…interactions in an
imaginary, “as if” situation, which usually contains
some roles and rules and the symbolic use of
objects.” Free play within this imaginary setting
enables the child to “explore the roles and rules of
functioning in adult society.”
According to Vygotsky (1934) “Imaginary
situations of any form of play already contains
rules of behaviour.” These are not necessarily rules
which are formulated previous to play but are
merely automatic, situational rules which come
about from the existence of an imaginary situation.
In playing a game based in a medieval style
fantasy world, for example, an automatic
situational rule exists in that a character would not
have at their disposal modern technology such as a
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
computer with internet access or mobile phone.
Conversely, while it is possible to use the existence
of technology to aid characters in a game in a more
modern urban setting such as New York City,
magic, mythical creatures or ancient modes of
transport, for example, would be equally
“Just as the imaginary situation has to contain rules
of behaviour, so every game with rules contains an
imaginary situation” (Vygotsky 1934). The
relationship between imaginary situations and
rules, therefore, goes both ways. The example used
by Vygotsky to explain this is a game of chess.
Chess is a game with rules, and an imaginary
situation wherein the pieces, each with its different
role, can only move in specified ways, and where
the taking of a piece is a concept which exists
purely in the game of chess – there is no direct
proxy for this action in real life.
There has been much discussion about the idea of
“make-believe” ‘play’ – in its traditional sense,
occurring in an “imaginary, illusory
world” (Vygotsky 1934). This description of child’s
play sounds very similar to the previous
descriptions of role-playing games, where the
participants enact roles within an imaginary setting
and through this enactment, the situations and
characters develop within the rules and framework
of the game.
From this description, it can be seen that role-
playing games are similar to child’s play in three
ways: in both of these activities roles and rules are
essential, and there is an importance on
interactions within an imaginary setting. It can be
considered that some role-playing games, with
their detailed rulebooks and reliance on numbers
and dice-rolling to determine outcomes, are the
same kind of activity though at a more advanced
level than traditional child’s play.
Imaginary play is important for children’s
development, one description insisting that it
contains all of the child’s developmental tendencies
“in a condensed form” (Vygotsky 1934). This
includes identity development which occurs early
on in childhood, although identity changes and
transforms at many stages throughout life.
Children use play to “explore the roles and rules of
functioning in adult society” (Verenikina et al.
2003) which children will need in their adulthood,
and they may also use it to rehearse their own roles
in the present and “play at reality” (Vygotsky
In this type of reality-based play, the child plays an
exaggerated version of herself. An example of this
is when a pair of female siblings play at ‘being
sisters’. During this play, the children emphasize
the relationship between the two, as sisters, and go
out of their way to display the aspects which stand
to highlight this – for example, sharing toys,
talking and dressing alike. As part of this
emphasis, the children will also stress the
importance of the aspects which stand to make
them different from other people, and this also
helps the children to reinforce and highlight their
current roles and relationships.
It could be considered that when Verenikina et al.
(2003) mention the acquisition of the “foundations
of self-reflection” through play, reality-based play
fits into this theory, as it enables the child to
examine and reflect on existing aspects of their
This idea of identity development is touched on in
Vygotsky’s research on child’s play also, and the
development of the basis of self-reflection can be
seen in children when they engage in imaginary
play (Verenikina et al. 2003). By putting on a role, a
child can discover new ideas and develop new
skills, and consequently the child may incorporate
these ideas and their newly discovered social
norms into their identity – such as heroism in the
case of playing a superhero saving somebody’s life,
or loyalty in the case of playing a good friend to
somebody else (Vygotsky 1934).
4.2 Personal Identity
Personal identity refers to the way in which an
individual defines the self “in terms of
idiosyncratic personal relationships and
traits” (Hogg & Vaughan 2002) and according to
Wallace, games add to the sense of identity and self
(1999). In contrast to the idea that involvement in
(violent) RPGs can lead to real world involvement
in violence and Satanism, researchers involved in
the development of identity in role-playing games
generally affirm that games have a positive
development function in adults, just as with
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
Role-playing games are similar to
child’s play in three ways: in both of
these activities roles and rules are
essential, and there is an importance
on interactions within an imaginary
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
Role-playing gamers are “constantly creating and
performing a variety of identities”, whether they
are using tabletop games, MUDs or online games
such as Everquest as their platform (Taylor 2006).
Taylor & Walford (1972) state that all that is
necessary is for “the participant to accept a new
identity…and act and react as appropriately as
The question “Do you believe it is possible to identify
so strongly with one’s character that it becomes one’s
primary identity (i.e. does, in your opinion, “character
immersion” exist)?” was answered by 40 Live Action
Role-Playing gamers from Europe (Harviainen
2007). 82.9% of answers were positive, with 93.8%
of these stating that they had experienced
immersion themselves.
“Users can construct identities that may or may not
correlate to their offline persona”; they are not
‘bound’ to make sure their online persona
corresponds with their offline identity (Taylor
2006). It can be seen, nonetheless, that the persona
created within an online role-playing game can
impact on the player’s real-life identity. Taylor
describes an individual handing out roses at a
convention, which he does in-game, as in an act of
creating a parallel with his online identity, almost
as an “offline incarnation of his online persona.”
This, of course, can work both ways. In online role-
playing games, one often finds participants sharing
virtual drinks and physical signs of affection. Even
barring conscious efforts to mimic online personae,
role-playing can have a real effect on offline
identity. For females, “identity exploration” is
considered to be a primary play goal, and it has
been reported that “…virtual world experiences
“filter back”” with women finding that they have
become more confident due to their experiences in
the game (Taylor 2006).
Affirmation of identity is what players endeavour
to find through virtual play, and Bartle (2001) sees
immersion, the level of involvement in a game, as
an aid to convey this affirmation of identity. Bartle
describes the highest level of immersion, termed
‘Persona’, in a very clear way:
“A persona is a player, in a world. Any separate
distinction of character has gone – the player is
the character. You’re not role-playing a being,
you are that being; you’re not assuming an
identity, you are that identity. If you lose a
fight, you don’t feel that your character has
died, you feel that you have died. There’s no
level of indirection: you are there.”
So, players can construct online personae which are
very unlike their offline personality, they can create
ones which are also very similar, and the
construction of an online identity can have an
effect on their real-life’ identity. ‘Drift’ is the term
given to the phenomenon of players and characters
changing to fit one another (Bartle 2001). When a
player is more aligned with his character, he may
also be more immersed in the character and the
virtual world. The ideal is seen as being when one
reaches full immersion and character alignment at
the same time and pace.
What we find, therefore, on the one hand there is a
separation of identities (real identity vs.
constructed identities) and, on the other hand,
there is a ‘drift’ between these identities, in both
directions. This mirrors the “reality based play” of
children, discussed in the previous section.
Immersion is the extent to which one is willing to
take on another identity as her own and in online
role-playing games, players are given the
opportunity to create multiple new identities for
themselves, and “become authors…of themselves,
constructing new selves through social
interaction” (Turkle 1997). Immersion could,
therefore, be considered as an important element
which allows for ‘drift’
If a player either reaches total immersion before
finishing alignment with the character or is happily
aligned with the character before fully being
immersed in the game, he may feel a sense of
dissatisfaction. The designer’s job is to try to
ensure that the players “become their characters at
roughly the same time that their characters’ skills
become internalised”. It is not certain, however,
what the link between the two facets is.
Identity is an important issue to consider when the
objective of immersion in a role-playing game is to
take on the role of a completely discrete entity.
Some individuals spend the majority of their free
time playing online games, enacting a character. In
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
The construction of an online identity
can have an effect on real-life identity.
Drift is the term given to the
phenomenon of players and
characters changing to fit one another.
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
this way, an individual can create his identity and
attempt to embody the role that he is playing, but
he has also created the initial possibility for
creating the identity that he wishes himself to have.
4.3 Gender Identity
In contrast to the literature on personal identity,
studies on gender and social identity are more
descriptive and it is difficult to draw general
conclusions in these areas. For instance, it is said
that games can “…allow access to gender identities
that are often socially prohibited or delegitimized
offline” (Taylor 2006), which is obvious. But what is
the effect of such experimentation?
Interestingly, in a study on gender swapping and
socializing online, Hussain & Griffiths (2008) found
that 21% of gamers preferred socializing online to
offline, when given the choice, and it was shown
that 57% of gamers took part in gender swapping
online. Reid (1995) found that reactions to such
gender swapping could be very passionate – with
many believing that it is a form of “deceit” or
“cheating” even within the boundaries of a role-
playing game. Wallace (1999) stated that in the
example of an online MUD (Multi-User Domain),
those who were ‘female-presenting’ (putting
forward a female persona/character) “tended to
receive more attention and chivalry in the form of
hints and gifts, and occasionally received more
harassment”. Also, while 15% of individuals were
female, 25% of people on this game presented
themselves as female. This suggests that the 10% of
males presenting themselves as female have some
kind of agenda, perhaps a role in leveraging
attention. It would be very interesting to examine
the presence or absence of ‘drift’ in this type of
4.4 Social Identity
Social identity is used to define the self in terms of
social group memberships. Being involved in role-
playing games generally involves being part of a
group by their very nature. There are computer
role-playing games (CRPGs) which involve a single
player approach, moving through a set storyline, in
which no interaction with players is necessary or
even possible. Even online MMORPGs give the
scope for solo-play, but to achieve certain goals
within these games it generally becomes necessary
at some stage to align oneself with other players,
whether temporarily in a ‘Pick-Up-Group’ or for
much longer time periods in a ‘Guild’ or ‘Clan’.
Playing tabletop role-playing games or Live Action
Role-playing games involves playing with a group
of players which can vary in size from 3 or 4 to
hundreds during big live action events. Gaming
societies of all sizes tend to exist when gamers
come together in schools and colleges and in towns
and cities worldwide. Although gamers are
sometimes thought of as being solitary, the
majority of games require two or more individuals
to play, and so gaming groups come together out of
necessity for the hobby.
Grantham Aldred (2009) describes gaming groups
in terms of folk groups with particular traditions
attached involving shared jokes which “reference
the various tiers of cultural identity” which are
possessed by members of the gaming group.
Thus, although the games are a virtual experience,
away from ‘reality’, participation in a gaming
group is a real experience. Gender crossing as
described above may be negatively perceived as
violating the virtual/real boundary: in effect, a
Contrary to the stereotypic image of the game
player as an anti-social ‘nerd’ who finds it difficult
to create or maintain relationships with others, the
image that is being developed in the light of the
reviewed research is of an individual who is
actively seeking to develop his own identity
through ‘drift’ and who is involved in game-based
social networks that involve their own fairly
complex collections of norms and taboos.
The aim of this paper was to investigate the
existing research that has been carried out with
reference to role-playing games and stereotypical
characteristics of gamers, and draw up a review of
literature concerning child’s play and role-playing
games and the importance of imaginary play for
identity development. The research can generally
be divided into four main sections: Demographics,
Interests, Personality and Identity.
In terms of demographics, although many of the
older studies appear to back up the idea that the
vast majority of gamers are male, young, well-
educated and from a middle-class background,
more recent data would suggest that the hobby is
becoming more balanced in terms of gender, and
that the average age of gamers is in fact increasing
rather than decreasing.
In respect to personality, little or no evidence has
been found to support a difference between role-
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2 International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
playing gamers and the non-gaming population.
The few differences that have been found appear
inconclusive owing to small sample sizes in some
studies, and in other cases further research is
required in order to fully confirm the findings.
In summary, role-playing gamers have rarely been
found to deviate from the rest of society as regards
personality. Slightly higher scores for Q1
{‘Experimenting; Liberal; Freethinking’} and
Openness to Experience have been found in a
number of studies (Carroll & Carolin 1989; Simon
1987; Yee 1999). This was to be expected, to an
extent, as one facet to Openness to Experience
involves having a tendency towards fantasy and
having a vivid imagination and unusual ideas, all
of which are involved when taking part in a role-
playing game.
Game players were shown to be more likely to be
introverted, in their interests and activities, yet
they are also more likely to have a significantly
lower score of empathic concern although high
scores of this factor report as being “prone to
anxiety and shyness”. Role-playing gamers were
seen to have a higher level of “cultural
estrangement” i.e. a somewhat lower awareness of
popular entertainment, perhaps owing to the fact
that they have very specific niche areas of interest
which may differ from other populations.
The claims that players are more likely to become
involved in cults, or carry out crime or violence
towards the self or others have been investigated
and there is some evidence to the contrary for each
of these claims, in that none of these claims stood
up in court, and no clear evidence was found in
their support. It has been indicated that players
also scored no higher in neuroticism, psychoticism,
depression, suicidal ideation, extraversion,
perspective-taking or personal distress than non-
The control group (non-gamers) of DeRenard &
Kline’s study (1990) reported experiencing higher
feelings of ‘meaninglessness’ than the game-
playing group, and it is suggested that the advent
of the fantasy role-playing games in the lives of the
game players stands to give extra meaning to the
individuals involved. An assertion has been made
that participation in RPGs may, indeed, serve a
developmental function in terms of personality
growth and development of social identity. It has
also been suggested (Stackpole 1989) that owing to
the low rates of suicide amongst role-playing
gamers in comparison to that of non-gamers, that
these games could have some benefit if used as a
public health measure.
Looking at the research as presented in this review,
it can be seen that many varied aspects of the
stereotype of role-playing gamers have been
investigated by researchers.
Considering the volume of research that has been
carried out in relation to role-playing games and
their effect on the players, it is unfortunate that a
greater number of variables are not being taken
into consideration. Heretofore, the focus of the
research in this area and the range of variables
studied have been narrow. In the main, this work
has been concerned with general demographics
trends and involved the use of a variety of different
personality measures, many of which show very
few differences between role-playing gamers and
It is of concern that much of the existing research
replicates similar test designs – one group of
participants who are gamers, a control group of
non-gamers, and the use of a chosen personality
questionnaire – with little to differentiate them
from previous studies. It is to be regretted that
more variables have not been operationalised.
Even the briefest examination of existing studies,
particularly the pre-2003 demographics-based
studies, indicates the necessity for larger and more
balanced samples. Many of the existing studies fall
down on the fact that they have almost entirely
male participants. While this fact may reflect the
general population of gamers, it renders the results
of certain research studies virtually uninterpretable
– for example Douse & McManus (1993) use of the
Bem Sex Role Inventory. For such a popular
activity, it is imperative that broader studies are
carried out on gamers.
Thanks to my postgraduate supervisor Dr. Jurek
Little or no evidence has been found
to support a difference between role-
playing gamers and the non-gaming
International Journal of Role-Playing - Issue 2
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Noirin Curran holds a Bachelor of Applied Psychology
Degree (hons.) from University College Cork. Since
September 2007, she has been a member of the Human
Factors Research Group (HFRG) and a PhD track
student working under Dr. Jurek Kirakowski within
UCC’s Department of Applied Psychology. Her
previous research in the HFRG has been carried out in
the area of Quality Management Systems such as Six
Sigma. Currently, Noirin’s interests lie in the Social
aspect of games and gaming with particular attention
to the area of Human Computer Interaction and
specifically in communication and social interactions
through online media such as online games and social
networking sites. Within this context, her postgraduate
research activity involves the psychology of immersion
in role-playing games.
... To both sexes, people who see themselves as Black tended to score significatively less than non-Blacks. Despite of our findings of some mentions to a lack of representation of ethnic minorities in games and gamer communities (ex.: Curran, 2011;Erfani et al., 2010), we found no study investigating if Blacks effectively invest less in games. Since income and education predicted Gaming Investment together with ethnicity, it looks unlikely that this difference may be attributed to socioeconomical inequalities. ...
... Theoreticians of socialization argue female underrepresentation is caused by gender roles and stereotypes regarding games as activities suitable only to boys (e.g. Curran, 2011;Lucas & Sherry, 2004;Paaßen et al., 2017;Williams et al., 2009). That way, the correlation between Gaming Investment and Whimsical Playfulness may have been stronger for females than for males as an outcome of such stereotypes. ...
... Currently, females are gaming more than in the past Curran, 2011;Sioux Group, 2020). But, at least regarding sports, participation seems more motivated by extrinsic rewards, such as collegiate scholarships or aesthetic benefits, while males report more intrinsic motivation, even when the differences are controlled by gender equality indices Deaner et al., 2012). ...
Experiment Findings
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Despite their similarity with play, games are theorized as voluntary attempts to overcome unnecessary obstacles following self-handicapping arbitrary rules. These forms of entertainment are universal, usually played by adults, and have robust cross-cultural gender differences, but have received little attention from evolutionary theories. Two evolutionary hypotheses have tried to explain why adults play: to select mates and to compete for resources/status. This way, our goal was to investigate the relationship between gaming propensity, measured through Gaming Investment, and variables related to mating and status-gaining. To do so, we surveyed 1470 Brazilian adults about their gaming habits, sociodemographic data and playfulness (OLIW scale). Then, we used linear regressions and path analyses to investigate possible predictors of Gaming Investment. Results point out that Gaming Investment is related to status-seeking in gamers’ communities, meanwhile it shows no strong evidences that gaming may attract more mates or that it is related to playfulness. Therefore, gaming propensity may have evolved as a non-lethal competition for status. Modern issues may have impacted the results and are discussed suggestions for future studies.
... A Galhofa Excêntrica corresponde à tendência de gostar de coisas incomuns e de se ver como diferente das outras pessoas (Proyer, 2017). Teóricos da socialização enfatizam que a subrepresentação feminina é causada por papéis de gênero e estereótipos de que jogos são atividades apropriadas apenas aos meninos (ex.: Curran, 2011;Lucas & Sherry, 2004;Paaßen et al., 2017;Williams et al., 2009). Dessa forma, o fato de a correlação entre Investimento em Jogos e Galhofa Excêntrica ter sido a mais forte nas mulheres e a mais fraca nos homens pode ser reflexo de tais estereótipos. ...
... Há robustas evidências de que o interesse por brinquedos e brincadeiras tipicamente masculinos, como carrinhos e brincadeiras turbulentas, estão associados a maior exposição prénatal a hormônios sexuais masculinos (ex.: Auyeung et al., 2009;Berenbaum & Hines, 1992;Hines et al., 2015;Meyer-Bahlburg et al., 2004). Atualmente, as mulheres estão jogando mais que no passado Curran, 2011;Sioux Group, 2020). Porém, pelo menos em relação aos esportes, a participação parece mais motivada por recompensas extrínsecas, como bolsas de estudos, benefícios estéticos ou passar tempo, enquanto os homens relatam mais motivação intrínseca, mesmo controlando pelo índice de equidade de gênero Deaner et al., 2012). ...
... e também está relacionado à maior disponibilidade de tempo e dinheiro.Em ambos os sexos, pessoas que se autodeclararam negras tenderam a pontuar significativamente menos que as brancas, orientais, pardas ou outro grupo étnico. Embora tenhamos encontrado algumas menções à sub-representação de minorias étnicas em jogos e comunidades de jogadores (ex.: Curran, 2011;Erfani et al., 2010), não foram encontrados estudos investigando se negros efetivamente investiriam menos em jogos. Como renda e escolaridade predisseram o Investimento em Jogos junto da etnia, parece improvável que essa diferença de investimento possa ser atribuída a desigualdades socioeconômicas. Não conhecemos nenhuma teoria que predi ...
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Apesar das semelhanças com brincadeiras, jogos são teorizados como tentativas voluntárias de superar obstáculos desnecessários seguindo regras arbitrárias autodebilitantes. Essas formas de entretenimento são ubíquas, normalmente realizadas por adultos e têm robustas diferenças de gênero transculturais, mas foram pouco consideradas pelas teorias evolucionistas. Duas hipóteses evolucionistas têm tentado explicar por que adultos jogam: para selecionar parceiros e para competir por recursos/status. Assim sendo, nosso objetivo foi investigar a relação entre a propensão para jogar, medida pelo Investimento em Jogos, e variáveis associadas à obtenção de parceiros e de status. Para isso, um questionário foi aplicado a 1470 adultos brasileiros perguntando sobre seus hábitos de jogo, informações sociodemográficas e a escala OLIW. Ao todo, foram obtidas 939 respostas válidas aqui analisadas. Usamos regressões lineares e uma análise de caminho para investigar possíveis preditores de investimento em jogos. Os resultados apontam que investir em jogos está associado a busca por status nas comunidades de jogadores, mas não encontrou fortes evidências de que jogos atraiam mais parceiros ou estejam relacionados à personalidade brincalhona. Assim, a propensão para jogar pode ter evoluído como uma competição não-letal por status. Questões contemporâneas podem ter impactado os resultados e são discutidas sugestões para futuros estudos.
... In contrast to media claims, empirical studies have shown that tabletop RPGs are described as a cooperative, social, and recreational activity by the people who play them. Curran (2011) reported that there is no difference in criminal behavior and suicide rates between Dungeons & Dragons players and others. Moreover, no differences in personality were found between players who play often and those who play less frequently (Carroll & Carolin, 1989). ...
... Regarding the image of gamers, there are persistent stereotypes about gamers describing them as shy and lacking social skills (Curran, 2011;Meriläinen, 2012), but there are also suggestions that gamers may be highly intelligent (Anderegg, 2007). Do these stereotypes hold a kernel of truth with respect to MWG players? ...
... Overall, the stereotypes that gamers are antisocial (DeRenard & Kline, 1990) as claimed by the media from the 1980s and 1990s to the present day (Curran, 2011) were not supported. Instead, the present results fit into the RPG literature that portrays RPG gamers as empathetic and socially skilled (Curran, 2011;Meriläinen, 2012). ...
Full-text available
The popularity of miniature wargames (MWGs) has recently been on the rise. We aimed to identify the personality characteristics of people who play MWGs. Whereas the popular media have suspected that fantasy role-playing and war-related games cause antisocial behavior, past research on tabletop role-playing has shown that gamers are creative and empathetic individuals. Previous studies have investigated pen-and-paper tabletop games, which require imagination and cooperation between players. Tabletop MWGs are somewhat different because players compete against each other, and there is a strong focus on war-related actions. Thus, people have voiced the suspicion that players of this type of game may be rather aggressive. In the present study, 250 male MWG players completed questionnaires on the Big Five, authoritarianism, risk-orientation, and motives as well as an intelligence test. The same measures were administered to non-gamers, tabletop role-playing gamers, and first-person shooter gamers. Results indicated that according to self-reports, MWG players are more open, more extraverted, and have a higher need for affiliation than non-gamers. Further, high scores on reasoning and low scores on authoritarianism were typical of MWG players, and MWG players were similar to other gamers on these characteristics. All in all, our findings show that despite their penchant for (re)-enacting war scenes, MWG players seem to be open, nonauthoritarian individuals. Future research may add to these findings by using observer reports and longitudinal research to better understand whether intelligent and nontraditional people are attracted to MWGs or whether the setting of MWGs supports the development of such traits.
... Gaming was often given the narrative trope of being anti-jock, the opposite of the American high school/college quarterback -homecoming queen dream. This kind of meaning still pervades in many narratives with individuals often quick to distance themselves from the label 'gamer' when observed playing games (Curran, 2011). ...
... The positive view extends to the players themselves as well. Contrary to common stereotypes (Curran 2010, Leppälahti 2002) roleplayers appear to have a very positive self-image, viewing themselves as creative, empathic, and imaginative. This is consistent with Curran's (2010) findings when reviewing past research. ...
Full-text available
This article is a survey report of a study conducted between 2010 and 2011 exploring the views of role-playing gamers on how the role-playing hobby has influenced their social and mental development. A socio-pedagogical concept of empathic intelligence was chosen as the theoretical framework based on which a survey questionnaire of nine groups of questions was built. The survey that included both multiple-choice questions and open questions was taken by 161 Finnish active role-players and statistically analyzed. A control group of 106 non-role-players was used to examine the role-players' self-assessment of their own capabilities. The study showed that the views of role-playing gamers on their hobby and themselves are predominantly positive. The respondents reported that role-playing games had provided them with a good platform for experimenting with different personalities and social roles, and that they viewed the hobby as having improved various skills and traits such as creativity and imagination. The gender of the respondents was an important factor especially regarding the emotional responses evoked by the games, while the other variables played a minor role. Role-players viewed themselves as more imaginative but less socially adept than the control group. A more active reading hobby was perceived by the role-players as well. The results of the study suggest that the role-playing gaming hobby provides a good platform for the development of both personal and social skills, and that used correctly, role-playing games have the potential to be used to advance such development.
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Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk mengungkapkan keefektifan metode role playing dibandingkan dengan metode ceramah dalam peningkatan: (a) keaktifan siswa dan (b) kerja sama siswa dalam pembelajaran IPS kelas VIII di SMP Negeri 1 Marioriawa. Penelitian ini merupakan penelitian quasi experimental dengan pretest-posttest control group design. Populasi penelitian ini adalah semua kelas VIII SMP Negeri 1 Marioriawa, Kabupaten Soppeng, Sulawesi Selatan. Sampel penelitian ini adalah dua kelas dari lima kelas, dipilih satu kelas kontrol menggunakan metode ceramah dan kelas eksperimen menggunakan metode role playing ditentukan dengan teknik simple random sampling dengan memilih secara acak. Instrumen yang digunakan untuk mengumpulkan data adalah angket dengan skala Likert dan panduan observasi. Validitas instrumen yang digunakan adalah validitas isi dan validitas empiris. Pengujian realibilitas dengan menggunakan Cronbach’s Alpha. Teknik analisis data yang digunakan adalah teknik analisis uji-t. Hasil penelitian adalah sebagai berikut. (1) Metode role playing lebih efektif terhadap peningkatan keaktifan siswa dibandingkan dengan metode ceramah. (2) Metode role playing lebih efektif terhadap peningkatan kerja sama siswa dibandingkan dengan metode ceramah. Role atau peran yaitu siswa dibagi menjadi dua kelompok, kelompok pertama sebagai pemain peran dan kelompok kedua sebagai pengamat. Playing atau bermain yaitu siswa memainkan peran dalam topik musyawarah dan gotong royong dalam menciptakan keamanan desa. Dengan metode role playing, siswa dapat aktif dan bekerja sama pada saat memainkan peran atau karakter. Kata kunci: metode role playing, keaktifan, kerja sama THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ROLE PLAYING METHOD IN INCREASING THE ACTIVENESS AND COOPERATION IN SOCIAL STUDIES Abstract This study aims to reveal the effectiveness of the role playing method compared with the lecture method in creasing: (a) the activeness and b) the cooperation in social studies of grade VIII students of SMP Negeri 1 Marioriawa. This study was quasi-experimental with the pretest-posttest control group design. The population was all students of class VIII of SMP Negeri 1 Marioriawa, Soppeng, South Sulawesi. The research sample was two out of five classes, one control class taught using the lecture method and one experimental class taught using the role playing method. The instrument used to collect data was a questionnaire with Likert scale and an observation. The validity of the instruments used content validity and empirical validity . Testing reliability by using Cronbach 's Alpha. The data analysis technique used was the t-test analysis technique.The results are as follows. (1) The role playing method is more effective in improving student activeness compared with the lecture method, (2) The role playing method is effective in improving cooperation compared with the lecture method. The role that the students were divided into two groups, the first group as a role player and the second group as observers. Playing that students play a role in the topic of discussion and mutual assistance in creating a security village. With this method of role playing, students can be active and work at the time played a role or character. Keywords: role playing method, activeness, cooperation
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Online games have exploded in popularity, but for many researchers access to players has been difficult. The study reported here is the first to collect a combination of survey and behavioral data with the cooperation of a major virtual world operator. In the current study, 7,000 players of the massively multiplayer online game (MMO) EverQuest 2 were surveyed about their offline characteristics, their motivations and their physical and mental health. These self-report data were then combined with data on participants’ actual in-game play behaviors, as collected by the game operator. Most of the results defy common stereotypes in surprising and interesting ways and have implications for communication theory and for future investigations of games.
Far from being over, the computer and telecoms revolution that created the internet has barely begun. These technologies will change almost every aspect of human life, whether private, social, cultural, economic and political. In some areas, the changes may be marginal, but in most they will be profound, and unprecedented.
The relationship between personality variables and involvement in adventure games (such as Dungeons and Dragons) has been equivocal with both negative and positive correlates being reported. 75 college students were evaluated with the 16 PF. No differences were found between heavy and light involvement gamers; both groups' scores were similar to the 16 PF standardization population.
Extensive attention has been given to understanding the nature of adolescent identity, but little consideration has been given to the everyday social experiences and processes by which the content of teenagers' self-perceptions are formed and remain stable or change within educational settings. Since studies have focused on members of "popular" cliques or "deviant" subcultures, it is important to examine the daily lives of teenagers whose peers have labeled them unpopular "nerds" in schools to document how these adolescents are able to overcome the stigma of this label. Using intensive interviews and observations, this study delineated the impact of school activities, school social structure, and peer culture on the self-perceptions of nerds. The findings indicate that adolescents who were unpopular in middle school and who became involved in high school activities and friendship groups were able to recover by becoming self-confident and reconstructing themselves as "normal" within a changing school social system.
In a new media environment characterized by sharing and creative repurposing, some fan practices and texts once labeled as "geeky" or "nerdy" seem much less stigmatized. Now, self-identified geeks and nerds must negotiate between a subculture built in part on marginalization and a new-found acceptance by the cultural mainstream. A particularly notable site of this negotiation is in fashion, where t-shirt designers, online cartoonists, and computer programmers have constructed a market of identity apparel for their fellow geeks. This paper takes an ethnographic and textual analytic approach to the clothing marketed to and worn by the "smart masses," to quote one online store's tagline.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. 264 pages (£20.00 hardcover) ISBN: 0521632943 This book is a timely examination of web users' behaviour and the ways in which it affects others participating among the different electronic environments available. The Internet is a technology that has expanded rapidly over relatively few years and millions of users are interacting with each other using the new medium without having considered how this communication differs in quantity and quality from more established information channels. Using examples from previously established research in the field of social psychology and more recent studies on various aspects of the Internet phenomenon, the author considers how human behaviour is influenced by the peculiar characteristics of the new 'Web-World'. After a brief introductory chapter where some of the Internet jargon is usefully demystified, there follow two related chapters on how people 'invent' themselves on the Web, discussing role-playing, impression formation and management, and identity experiments. They examine how users attempt to overcome the lack of the usual non-verbal cues in face-to-face communication and add socioemotional expressiveness to their online personas. The author also discusses how this process of online self-projection can become altogether delusional, deceptive and dangerous as participants morph between generational, gender and personality profiles. The following two chapters examine the dynamics of group behaviour online. They illustrate the psychological phenomena of conformity, polarization, conflict and co-operation occurring in mailing lists, e-mail traffic, news and discussion groups and chat rooms. Surprisingly, much of group behaviour online has similar social regulation as their real life counterparts.
Should a Christian play D&D? Schnoebelen's first 'Straight Talk' on D&D (at left) raised lots of questions. Here are his well-researched answers on this controversy.Dungeons and Dragons is a tragic and tangled subject. It is essentially a feeding program for occultism and witchcraft. For Christians, the first scriptural problem is the fact that Dungeons and Dragons violates the commandment of I Ths. 5:22 "Abstain from all appearance of evil." Much of the trappings, art, figurines, and writing within D&D certainly appears evil-to say the least of it. On top of that, the second issue is that the materials themselves, in many cases, contain authentic magical rituals. I can tell you this from my own experience. I was a witch high priest (Alexandrian tradition) during the period 1973-84. During some of that period (1976-80) I was also involved in hardcore Satanism. We studied and practiced and trained more than 175 people in the Craft. Our "covendom" was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; just a short drive away from the world headquarters of TSR, the company which makes Dungeons and Dragons in Lake Geneva, WI. In the late 1970's, a couple of the game writers actually came to my wife and I as prominent "sorcerers" in the community. They wanted to make certain the rituals were authentic. For the most part, they are. These two guys sat in our living room and took copious notes from us on how to make sure the rituals were truly right "from the book," (this meaning that they actually came from magic grimoires or workbooks). They seemed satisfied with what they got and left us thankfully.