Thursday, February 9, 2012

WoW Survey Results: Gender and Race

Cats are magic
How do men and women play World of Warcraft? We've all heard talk about the differences between male and female WoW players. Some of that might reflect truth, some of that may reflect enforced gender roles. But has anyone just gone out there and asked them? [Editors Note: Yes, others have. No I won't link you. -HMP]

About a year ago, shortly before patch 4.1 was released, I made a survey and tried to distribute it among several sources, but the only place where it took off was MMO-Champion. In the survey I asked players about their age, gender, their characters, and what they liked to do when playing.

This data was collected during patch late patch 4.0, and consisted only of people who frequent MMO-Champion. As such, it's hard to apply everything here directly to our current WoW population. Absolute results should be assumed to likely not apply, but comparative results should still be quite relevant. For example, I won't talk about the ratio of male to female players or the age distributions of players in my results because I have a unique subset of the WoW playing population.

Race Choices
From this table we can see that female respondents tend to play Alliance characters slightly more than male respondents do. This does not mean that the Alliance has more female players than male players. The only way to do that would be a comprehensive survey of WoW players or an in-game random sampling of players. I wouldn't trust asking people in-game, they'd probably be weirded out by someone whispering them and asking them their age and gender.

Races played by male players
HumanBlood ElfNight ElfTaurenUndeadOrcDraeneiTrollWorgenGoblinDwarfGnome
Races played by female players
Blood ElfDraeneiNight ElfHumanWorgenTaurenTrollGoblinGnomeUndeadOrcDwarf

Humans and elves are popular all around, but the popularity/percentage of play changes drastically depending upon the gender of the respondent. In the transition from male to female the human, undead, orc and dwarf representations drastically lowers while the draenei, blood elf, and night elf representations increase dramatically. If you consider the sexual dimorphism for each of the races and the comparative attractiveness between each race's genders it would appear that a large factor in this has to do with wanting one's character to be attractive/human. The more monstrous races tend toward the lower side of the scale, while the more attractive and human ones tend toward the higher side of the scale. In the case of the draenei, the males are large and strange, while their females are more human sized and proportioned. I can't really account for the loss of representation of humans in the transition except that their popularity may pale in comparison to the elves and the draenei.

It's important to remember that people play different races for a great variety of reasons and that the reasons listed above do not apply to everybody's decision. This merely reflects the overall trend. One reason to pick a race that actually went away quite a bit in Cataclysm was race/class combinations. They were far more restrictive prior to Cataclysm and were opened up significantly and now there are far fewer restrictions than there were.

In general, you find that the distribution of races is more even among the male players, while it is more skewed among the female players. I can't really account for what this means, though. Commenters are certainly welcome to speculate.

Next time the discussion will be about the gender of the player and the classes they play. That one is going to be a doozy.