Researchers develop tool to predict what gamers want

By on June 15, 2011, 2:00 PM

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new method that can predict the behavior of players in online role-playing games with an accuracy up to 80 percent. The tool could be used by the game industry to develop new game content, or to help steer players to the parts of a game they will enjoy most, based on their gaming style. The team developed the data-driven predictive method by analyzing the behavior of 14,000 players in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft (WoW).

"We are able to predict what a player in a game will do based on his or her previous behavior, with up to 80 percent accuracy," says Brent Harrison, a Ph.D. student at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research. "In a game like World of Warcraft, which is constantly developing new content, this could help guide content design decisions."

The researchers developed the new method by evaluating the task-based achievement badges that players earn in WoW. These achievements are awarded whenever a player accomplishes a specific goal or series of goals. The team collected data on the order in which gamers earned their achievement badges and then identified the degree to which each individual achievement was correlated to every other achievement. The researchers used that data to identify groups of achievements – called cliques – that were closely related. Those cliques could then be used to predict future behavior. It was also discovered that highly correlated achievements – or part of the same clique – do not necessarily have any obvious connection to the outside observer.

If a gaming company wants to improve a game, it has to make sure players will like the changes. This research can help with that decision, as it points to what kind of storylines and mechanics players like about the game already. The research could also apply to any setting where users are making a series of decisions. Since this is a data-driven modeling approach, it could be done on a large scale with minimum input from game designers.

The researchers' work will be presented in a paper titled "Using Sequential Observations to Model and Predict Player Behavior" at the Foundations of Digital Games Conference (June 29, 2011 to July 1, 2011) in Bordeaux, France.




User Comments: 12

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hitech0101 said:

Please send this tool over to EA. Really please !!

Blkfx1 Blkfx1 said:

Has to be the most interesting thing I've read today, it will prove useful to many game developers.

@Hitech0101 Yes! I agree, EA could really utilize this, haha.

NeoFryBoy said:

I'll bet you could achieve the same results via guessing. The study clearly ignores initial bias.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Predicting what people will do based on a detailed analysis of their past actions in a setting which allows you a limited choice of actions, typically oriented around typical RPG elements?

Whoa, there is no spoon.

yRaz yRaz said:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't RPG's just about getting better weapons to kill harder monsters to get better weapons so you can kill harder monsters? anyone see where I'm going with that?

I bet that other 20% is made up of the gamers that want a life... I'd like to see developers give them that

Cota Cota said:

neofryboy said:

I'll bet you could achieve the same results via guessing. The study clearly ignores initial bias.

True that, but dont wait for miracles? lol xD

Guest said:

RPGs are a learned pattern anyway, this does not tell the observer what the gamer "wants" only what they think they should do next in the game.

Example- Kill mob > loot > Kil mob > loot > spend xp > goto next area > repeat

So what, I could have told them that without making a program.

Maybe the gamer is thinking "Damn this would be a good place for a minigame to kill the mob, or I wish you went to a magic castle to spent the xp I just gained" but no the program just tells you what we already know "gamers follow the pattern set out by the game"

Mindwraith said:

proof of yahtzee's statement "WoW programs you"

its scary that MMO players are this predictable, almost like lab rats

ramonsterns said:

yRaz said:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't RPG's just about getting better weapons to kill harder monsters to get better weapons so you can kill harder monsters? anyone see where I'm going with that?

I bet that other 20% is made up of the gamers that want a life... I'd like to see developers give them that

No, those are MMOs.

Not to be confused with actual RPGs, in which you play a character with a certain role inside a story of some sort. MMOs take everything bad about RPGs and make you pay monthly for it, with the only "advantage" being able to talk to other people.

Arris Arris said:

Mindwraith said:

proof of yahtzee's statement "WoW programs you"

its scary that MMO players are this predictable, almost like lab rats

To be honest I'd be surprised if anything new or useful would come out of this that Blizzard would not be able to ascertain for themselves.

Guest said:

Sounds good but.....really? this will kill diversity, so...if you divide the 80% into the different kind of players..then you will realise that the thing that they want will be pointed to the players that has no life and not to the good ones....so for me its some kind of useless and if a company use this no mames they will exploit it for profit and not to develop something amazing....with this new toy for the industry, its a must to have somekind of organism that controls the way the companies exploit it...i dont know but this is only for the big group of players that they play because there is nothing more in their lifes...like COD....shoot...kill...die..respawn....shoot...die...respawn.
.die..respawn....and so on

Lionvibez said:

I can already tell you what gamers want no more F****** console ports!

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