Monday, February 13, 2012

WoW Survey Results: Gender and Class

Last time we covered the differences in race selection by the gender of the respondents. This time, we're going to talk about the differences in class selection by the gender of the respondents. There are tons of ways to break this down, so let's get started.

Breakdown by class

Classes played by male respondents

Classes played by female respondents

The classes that increased in representation if you go from male to female respondents were: druid, shaman, hunter, priest, mage, and warlock. The classes that decreased in representation were, paladin, warrior, dk, and rogue.

One of the things that we want to do when we look at this is to figure out the trend. Certainly by looking at which classes decreased in popularity it would seem that women don't like being in melee as much as men do. Is that the chief difference? Or is it that women don't like wearing plate or rogues as much? I think this deserves some breakdowns.

Breakdown by roles available

Average class representation
Male respondents
No HealHeal
No Tank8.74%9.92%
Female respondents
No HealHeal
No Tank8.94%12.13%
But what does this all mean? Both male and female respondents seem to enjoy classes that can heal as opposed to classes that can't heal. There is a clear indication that male respondents would rather have the option of tanking than to not have the option. However, with the female respondents, we see an increase from dps/healing hybrid (top right) to 3-way hybrid (bottom right) but a decrease from pure DPS (top left) to tank/dps hybrid (bottom left).

If you think about it, the tank/dps hybrids are warriors and Death Knights. They are both plate classes. SO maybe this all has to do with the aesthetics of armor types and it cascades into the roles of the class. Let's look at some more breakdowns.

Breakdown by armor type

Average Class Representation

From this chart it would appear that male players prefer heavier armor types, with cloth being far below leather and mail and plate being far above. It's a bit more complicated for female players. We can certainly say that they don't play plate-wearing characters as often as the others, but otherwise there is an increasing trend from cloth up to mail.

So what is it? Is it that female players just don't like plate, but otherwise prefer heavier armor? Let's check something else out.

Breakdown by location in battle

Average Class Representation
From this chart, it would appear that women tend to prefer to prefer to stand at range as opposed to melee. Male players have a much more even distribution of preferences. But there may be something else at play here. Loot at the bottom four classes for the female respondents: Death Knight, warlock, rogue, and warrior. What separates them from the others? They have a different tone than the other classes. The Death Knight is dark, filled with necromantic energy. The warlock uses fel energy; it is literally demonic. The rogue is sneaky and ruthless. The warrior is often thought of as a barbarian. They have these harsh connotations to them. Maybe that's a source of their lack of representation.

I've just spent an awful large amount of time trying to figure out the motivations that give us the breakdown of classes played by the female respondents to my survey. This is because when we look at the breakdown by roles, their isn't a clear explanation. There was an increase from healer/dps hybrids to 3-way hybrids but a decrease from pure dps to tank/dps hybrids. 

When looking at the decrease I saw that something else may have been at play. Both tank/dps hybrids are plate classes! But the paladin is also a plate class and has a quite favorable representation among the female respondents. Paladins can heal, warriors and Death Knights cannot. This means paladins can be at range. What happens if we bring rogues into this? They're melee only and also feature a low representation. When looking at the numbers it would seem that melee versus range seems to play a big role in the class choice of the female respondents. Lastly, when we bring another data point into the analysis, the representation of the warlock, we appears to be the classes with darker themes that feature the lowest representation. But the warlock has been unpopular this expansion in general and is receiving an overhaul in Mists of Pandaria to make is more appealing, so maybe bringing it into this analysis isn't going to help.

The problem that's at the heart of this is correlation, and it can be a big problem in statistics. If you've ever taken a statistics class, you've likely heard talk about independent random variables. When things are independent (unrelated to one another) it's easier to isolate the effect of each variable. In our case, the classes with harsh connotations tend towards melee DPS. Both of those groups tend towards plate wearers. Those groups all tend towards the having the role of tanking available. There is a relationship in how the classes are designed that obfuscates the motivations at hand here. Furthermore, I didn't collect information about specs (for reasons of it being difficult to parse the data that I would receive. I'm going to talk about all of that in a much later post.), but I did collect something else. I asked each person what their feelings were about different activities in a PVE scenario.

Difference From The Average Score by Gender
For that chart I had asked everyone to rate those activities on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 meaning that you loved participating in that activity. I split my respondents by gender and found the average score for each activity and then I took the average of those averages and subtracted it from original averages. This would let me see which activities a gender liked "more than average" and "less than average". From this, we can see that male respondents liked ranged DPS more than average and melee DPS slightly more than average. Female respondents liked healing and ranged DPS more than average and tanking and melee DPS less than average.

So maybe that's it. Maybe the female respondents just typically don't like melee DPS and tanking as much as they do healing and ranged DPS. This effect would cascade down and affect what armor types the female respondents wear, and what classes they play. 

The only real way to get a handle on the motivations for why someone plays the classes they do is to ask. So, dear readers, what classes do you play and why do you play them? Of particular interest is if you made a conscious decision to switch from one class to another. 
Remember, statistics are a function of a group. They can't tell you anything about an individual. So no matter what a group does, you should never use that to suggest that a person do or not do something.