Irvine (CA) – The National Science Foundation has given $100,000 to the University of California at Irvine for a study on World of Warcraft players. Bonnie Nardi, a UCI informatics professor, will examine the differences in play habits and culture between WoW players in the United States and China. She already has some interesting observations.
Nardi observed Chinese WoW players mainly in Internet gaming cafes while visiting China. She told the Orange County Register that the Chinese tend to play a “more challenging” version of the game and also use less modifications and add-ons to the WoW interface. According to Nardi, 95% of the Chinese play on this version of Wow versus 50% in the United States.
While we don’t know exactly what Nardi meant by a more challenging version of Wow, she’s probably referring to Player versus Player or PvP servers which allow players to kill each other without warning. PvE or Player versus Environment servers lets players battle each other only upon agreement.
Nardi also says the Chinese WoW players are basically regular people and are unjustly stereotyped by the media. “The vast majority of Chinese players are not gold farmers,” she told the OC Register.
There are approximately five million Chinese WoW players compared to 2.5 million players in the United States. Blizzard manages the game servers in the USA and contracts out to a Chinese company for the servers in China. Chinese players pay mostly on a per hour basis, while Americans either subscribe monthly or pay with store-bought game cards.