NCSU study uses World of Warcraft to predict player behavior

North Carolina State University computer scientists have used World of Warcraft to develop a method for predicting player behavior, which they say is up to 80% accurate and could have applications for developers wanting to tailor future content toward player desires.

“If you have a good idea of what players like, you can make informed decisions about the kind of storylines and mechanics those players would like in the future,” says the study's co-author, Dr. David L. Roberts. ““This work could obviously be used for World of Warcraft or other MMORPGs, but it also applies to any setting where users are making a series of decisions. That could be other gaming formats, or even online retailing.”

The study will be detailed in a paper, “Using Sequential Observations to Model and Predict Player Behavior.” Roberts and fellow author Brent Harrison will present the paper at France's Foundations of Digital Games Conference at the end of the month. Their method involved breaking down player achievements into “cliques,” noting that players who fulfilled one criteria tended to also fulfill the others in the “clique.” This, they say, leads to a highly accurate method of predicting a player's actions in-game, allowing designers to cater to what they believe players will want to do.

Could, say, Okami or LA Noire have come out of this method of giving players what they want? Will games benefit from designers taking a more deterministic view of how players will respond to the worlds they create? Free-will gamers, represent!

Jun 20, 2011

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  • Gahmah - June 20, 2011 8:35 p.m.

    I hope this applications for education, ever since I read an article detailing the instructive processes used in games should be applied to other learning environments I've been paying more attention to related materials.... well... that certainly confirms some findings in this paper.....
  • NelosAngelos - June 20, 2011 7:59 p.m.

    I sorta agree with CakePie. If everyone got what they wanted, there would always be someone who disagrees, not to mention the challenge would eventually diminish. I personally think it best to create new content no one has experienced before, instead of what the majority of players are used to. Keep experimenting.
  • TheCakeIsaPie - June 20, 2011 6:15 p.m.

    Giving gamers what they want (or what they think they want) isn't always a good idea. If that happened, every game would be a brown FPS and there would be no breaking the mold.

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