Monday, November 23, 2009

Trophy vs. Upgrade Gamers: A Scientific Study

Last Thursday I posted a bit about console games and had a like question area at the bottom. I'm going to take it a step further and make a bit of a conjecture about gaming habits and how they apply to WoW.  It would be great to get some feedback on this one, so I'll try to phrase this "study" into a multiple choice question that you can answer in my comment.  Then I'll tally up the results and we can see what we have.  Oh yes, and for fun, I'm going to revive the old (or new, depending on who you are) scientific method that comes straight out of grade-school science texts.  Not that what I'm doing is an exact science, but that it'll be a fun structure for the engineer in me.

Based on my last article I observed that there are two distinctly different camps of game ownership.  On one side, we have the gamers who buy games and keep them ad infinitum as a sort of "trophy" of their kill.  On the flip side, we have the gamers that will beat a game and then subsequently trade it in, "upgrading" for a newer title.  For the sake of discussion in this article, we'll call the first type Trophy Gamers and the second type Upgrade Gamers.

With the relatively recent (with respect to gaming) introduction of trophies and achievements built into games and networks (such as in WoW, Playstation Network, XBox Live, etc...), I have also observed that this split in game buying approach seems to be a relatively new one.  That is to say, several years ago, I don't think either extreme was as prevalent.  For one thing, game trade-ins weren't always offerred.  My other point of reference here is just that game developers have certainly noticed a desire in gamers to generally want to benchmark and compare their gaming feats, and are delivering new and diverse ways of accomplishing that goal.  As gaming culture becomes more mainstream, I believe we'll also see a natural diversity of different benchmarks that individuals take pride in.  This diversity may affect the two type of gamers in question differently. 

My final observation should lead into the hypthesis.  Very simply, it is the observation that within the WoW community, there exists a very diverse gamer culture making it an ideal place to seek knowledge from the gamers themselves.  In other words, it may be that the WoW populace is (or is not) representative of the larger gamer community that encompasses it.   In any case, it is a large subset that is a good place to start any sort of gamer psychological study.  WoW has acheivements.  WoW has both Trophy and Upgrade gamers.  The question then is how each type handles achievements.

The Hypothesis
If you are an Upgrade gamer outside of WoW, then inside of WoW you are an achievement completionist.  Conversely, if you are a Trophy gamer outside of WoW, then inside of WoW you are NOT an achiement completionist.

Based on my past experiences and questioning some of my WoW-playing friends, I believe the hypothesis will be supported by any findings herein.  Thus, Upgrade gamers will correlate directly with being a completionist when it comes to achievements in WoW.  I believe this is because, for Upgrade gamers, they see these "electronic trophies" as being their benchmark for success or failure in a game.  They don't need a physical representation of their past, since it is all laid out and described very nicely in an easy to view electronic format.  I think these gamers tend to be younger and may not be as diverse of a gamer outside of WoW (these extra hypothesises, yes it's a word, won't be tested here, but I wanted to point them out since they're interesting correlations as well).

In addition, Trophy gamers will correlate with not being completionists.  I believe this is because Trophy gamers tend to place their pride on a tangible, out of game item that can be prominently displayed (in a dusty case?).  Similar to the college kid that lines the top of his cabinetry with empty alcohol containers as a show of conquest (which I still am know to do with "pretty" bottles even though I've been out of college for almost three years now), the Trophy gamer likes to have that physical representation of their past.  Electronic copies are all well and good, but they can't quite replace the old school, physical method.  I think this will be the trend among older, more diverse gamers.

It would also be my guess that the line between "old" and "young" would be drawn somewhere in the 20-24 age range.  Since those terms are heavily referential in society, I thought it important to throw the "gray" range out there with respect to my side musings.  Apologies if I offend anyone by calling them old, but yes, some of you are damn near ancient in gaming years.  However, I applaud that... adult gamers are awesome!  And stuff.  (Plus it's something that's becoming more and more common, though perhaps 5 to 10 years ago people would look at you funny.  Maybe they still do, but for every 5 that look at you funny, there's probably one that wants to sit down and chat about the SNES days or something).

Like a threesome but not as wild and crazy, here is my multiple choice "test" of the hypothesis.  I'd be delighted if you guys could respond in comments and feel free to mention the other side notes such as your age or any other thoughts you may have.  I'm not testing those here, but I think it's certainly interesting.

First, classify yourself as one of the following:
  1. Trophy Gamer - A person who hangs on to old game copies for various nostalgic reasons.
  2. Upgrade Gamer - A person who wants to get rid of old games in order to hasten the arrival of new games, even if just to free up space on the DVD rack.
Second, choose the best answer for the following:  In WoW, I see myself as a(n)...
  • A - achievement completionist.  I feel a deep seated desire to collect them all and take pride in what the achievement panel shows I've done.  If a friend were to come over an ask about what I've done in WoW, showing them a list of achievements would be a good way to accomplish this task.
  • B - non-completionist.  I don't feel a desire to neccessarily collect achievements.  They're nice when they come, but I don't really look at the panel.  If a friend were to come over and ask about what I've done in WoW, achievements would probably not be mentioned or, even then, only in passing as part of a broader picture.
So, very simply, you can respond as a 1A, 1B, 2A, or 2B.  Like I said, feel free to add more, but I'd be happy if I can get some of those answers from people.  I'm sure the response won't be as crazy a "non-meme" healer questionnaire, but it might be fun if we get a decent number of people. If I get enough, I'll try to cook up an excel bar graph or something for reporting these results in a subsequent post (oooh, excel bar graph, exciting).

Since this is entirely based on self-reporting, I totally expect for there to be a bias and/or a skew in the results since if you're reading here you probably don't represent a healthy slice of the gaming community at large along with the problems with self-reporting serveys.  Not to say we're not healthy here, what with our sporks and fire, but more to say that I recognize this isn't nearly as scientifc as I'm pretending.  At the very least, I hope this rez of the old school scientific method has brought back deep seated, conflicted memories of your grade school days.  WTB old year book?  Can haz fire?


  1. Whelp, I sure don't fit your prediction. I'm totally a 1-A

    I kept 95% of my games even after I beat them. Heck, I would play one game, beat it, buy the next game, beat it, then go back to the older game & beat that once again.

    I did that a lot with the only Final Fantasy games. I can't tell you how many times I beat FFIIX. I even made a save point just before you killed the final boss so that I could play it over again and watch the scrolling Credits.

    When I play wow, I'm a total Achievement Whore. I'm the idiot running around getting old rep with obscure Factions & collecting all of the mini-pets I can think of for those 10 Points.

    I'm excited to see what other people have to say.

  2. 1A, definitely. I just assumed a Trophy Gamer would like to have trophies. Now, I don't try to get every achievement, but I do go after them rather than ignoring them.

  3. LOL, so far totally not supportive. Oh well, that'll happen. I figured 1A would be popular too, but I thought it'd be hard for people who try to play a lot of different games to also find the time to hit up all the achievements. Still that does make sense.

  4. I suppose I'm 1-B.

    I'm a total Achievement whore on my Xbox, but don't really care much in WoW. I'm odd like that.

  5. 2A here. 4895 currently achievement points, got my violet proto drake. I have a few older games, but if I thought I could get any money for them, they'd be sold. Never actually reloaded those older games, except if an expansion came out.

  6. Syrana sent me this via email since she was having commenting problems. I thought I'd put it here in case I get enough to total eventually.

    "So here's my answer which sucks more and more as I am forced to retype
    it lol


    Multi-gaming doesn't deter me from chasing achievements. It's not about
    having the time to complete them all, but is about the attention, focus
    and motivation I devote to them. Even if I don't necessarily play for
    the sole purpose of collecting an achievement, I pay them lots of
    attention and look through them and such. But, I definitely try to get
    as many as I can during a play through. And while I may keep most games
    I've played, I usually have not beaten most of them."