Raiding Research Online

Exploring and mapping the MMO raiding culture

Archive for November, 2010

Snow! UI modification! Personality tests! And happy Thanksgiving (to America)!

November 25, 2010 By: Ladan Category: personality tests, raiding, user interface

Wow it’s snowing a lot here in Durham today. I love it. I feel about 8 years old again. Though I don’t particularly like how it’s handled here. Ironically, for a northern European country, we British seem to have forgotten how to cope with it. And yes, I know it’s because we had really mild weather for a couple decades but still…. You’d think we were a tropical island. As I said earlier today to some friends, we either under-react or over-react. Everything shuts down or people act like they have never seen snow before.

But I digress.

So we have the results of our last survey to discuss. Only 1% of you have never modified your UI. And those of us who have only modified our UI once is only 9%, which means that still the vast majority of us has taken some time to modify our UI, from doing it a few times (26%), to about a dozen times (28%), to too many times to count (36%).  We’re a culture that likes to tinker and tweak, to alter and revise. It’s not a huge surprise to me–we have our theorycraft forums, our add-ons, our ranking and progress sites, our combat analysis tools, damage metres, and the like. We want to improve our performance and we like to think about it, and for the majority of us, the UI appears to be part of that process.

In other news, we’re currently collecting and analysing the results of the personality test. If you know of any locations beyond the main locations (Paragon’s site, this site, mmo-champion, and where the site was listed please let me know via PM or a comment on this page? We’re trying to collect all the results we can so we can have as detailed a result as possible.

And finally, to any American readers out there, happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re enjoying your turkey and family time.

Quickie poll about Cataclysm and changing your spec/class

November 24, 2010 By: Ladan Category: Uncategorized

So I’ve started a new poll, this one’s about Cataclysm. For some guilds out there a lot of pre-planning goes into what their raid make-up may need to be for success in progress raiding when a major new expansion (with new raid content) comes out. This probably happens in more of the hard core and elite guilds, but nonetheless, even if we haven’t been asked (or instructed) directly to change our spec or class, many of us may be wondering ‘Will my raiding performance be better if I change?’ At the very least we’ve all had to think about our specs and if they will need modifying once we get to 85 and encounter the new content. After all, raiding doesn’t seem as much fun if we don’t seem to be able to max our performance.

So! Let me know–have you had this discussion yet? Have you been asked to change? Have you offered? Are you planning to anyway (some of us can get sick of playing a certain spec for all eternity)? Or is it not an issue.

Vote on!

Back from Venice

November 23, 2010 By: Ladan Category: computer, play space, raiding research

I have waited all my life to be able to say “I have just returned from Venice…” And here I am, just back from Venice. Of course I didn’t expect my first time* in Venice to be at an academic conference, but hey at least I got to do it in Venice! Venice is truly like no place on earth and it was a really nice conference.

* Technically it was my second time; I was there when I was 1 and apparently the waiters cooed over me and fed me pasta. I can’t say I remember this, though…. but my mother loves to tell that story.

Some of you know I was going there to participate in a conference and present some of my findings about WoW and raiding. I think it went pretty well. I wanted to just highlight how some of it went while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Most of the participants at the conferences I’ve spoken at seem to have generally have little understanding of gaming, especially online games. This is partly because I don’t generally go to “games research” conferences. That’s not really a conscious thing on my part. I tend to go to conferences that are more about concepts than ones that have similar types of researchers. Like in July I went to a sports and leisure studies conference as a lot of sports theory actually relates to raiding; and in September I was in London at the Royal Geographical Society because I’m doing my PhD research in geography and a lot of my work relates to space and how populations (our gaming culture) interact and work together–big geographical concepts so no huge shock there–but as usual, I’m one of maybe 2 people out of 500 doing something with games. Not that I don’t get a little tired sometimes of having to spend the majority of my speaking time explaining what an MMO is or what the difference is between a videogame and a computer game.

Anyway, this conference was all about the constructed environment. And, as you can imagine, it attracted architects, designers, artists, civil engineers, urban planners, and a few oddballs like me and others who are looking at the social impacts of constructed environments and virtual environments. I actually found myself talking about the PHYSICAL constructed environment and the VIRTUAL environment for gamers, as I strongly believe they both have a big impact on how raiders manage their spaces of play. Our interest in sharing and analysing our UIs and our desktop gaming set up is evidence of that, I believe.

As with most academic conferences, I had a 30-minute time slot where I was supposed to present some findings and then entertain questions (I’m going to actually record my comments over my powerpoint and post it soon) but actually ended up speaking for over an hour due to questions, comments, and the interest from participants. I showed examples of how our desktop spaces of play are often very functional and laid out to play communally. I also showed how we modify our game portal (UI) for function, performance, and aesthetics. I think the idea of altering the environment we have for our own purposes is something quite unique in gaming. You can’t do too much user modification in a videogame, for example.

I did get to share one important factor that I think designers and architects need to consider when thinking about future design work: we need better spaces for play.  We need communal spaces, we need consideration of the technological requirements, we want to play together, we want to play effectively, and studies are now showing that even as we ‘grow up’ we are not going to stop playing. I think this was both surprising and eye-opening for a lot of them. I think the assumptions formed from what the media says has informed their perceptions of how we game and what our playing needs are. If I can get this message across among the disciplines that are responsible for designing our homes and public spaces then perhaps we can look forward to more innovative and interesting spaces to play in.

New poll up: UI modification

November 12, 2010 By: Ladan Category: addons, Uncategorized, user interface

Dear all,

While we’re all still considering, completing, and posting the personality test, I’d like to draw your attention to a new poll that I’ve put up, about our user interfaces (UIs). We’ve discussed this before and goodness knows everyone loves to talk about it (all of our favourite sites have a ‘post your UI!’ forum thread), but I think it’s such a prevalent issue amongst raiders that it bears revisiting. So please add your vote to the poll!

Do we like to modify our UIs? How often do we do it? Does it correlate to raiding performance? What addons do we use when we modify our UIs? Do we get addicted to tweaking it or do we only change when we have to? And, if you do modify your UI, how do you feel if your UI breaks down (especially if it happens 12 minutes before raid start time)?

I have empirical evidence of a lot of variation in answers to those questions. Some of us are almost crippled if our UI is not set up as we’re accustomed (imagine playing on someone else’s computer–egads!); some of us have an add-on addiction (with some having 50+ addons in use at any given time); and some of us take pride in playing with as little ‘help’ as possible. Yes, some of us feel like modifying the UI and using more than the absolute essential addons (boss mod, threat metres) makes the raiding experience less ‘genuine’. As a raider, I say, to each his/her own, as long as it doesn’t screw up the quality of your raiding. As a researcher, I believe, our varied approach to our UIs might be saying a lot about how we like to raid and what we value in the raiding culture.

So if we do modify our UIs, how do we tend to do it?

I  have found a veritable cornucopia of UI variation. In fact, in conferences where I’m sharing my research with academics (keeping mind they tend to have no idea about raiders or WoW), it’s one of the first things I like to show them–as a representation of our adaptability and flexibility. We are not just playing a game, we are creating a unique player-determined visual experience. By modifying the view, experience, and usefulness of the game we make it our own, we want to control the outcome better by modifying the process by which we achieve that outcome.

Some recent video footage from guilds of various fights can give us a nice palette of variation:

And that’s just the start. For every raider there seems to be a different UI.

So why do we like to modify? What makes this seem to integral to the raiding experience? Feel free to comment and vote in the poll!

Do we have a raider personality?

November 08, 2010 By: Ladan Category: personality tests, raider, raiding research

Paragon and I have launched a new experiment–asking raiders to take a short personality test and then post their results. You can either visit Paragon’s site to complete the test (and post your results!) or do the test here (and post the result in the comments below). We’re getting an excellent response so far on the Paragon site and I’m already seeing some interesting trends. Is this telling us anything? I don’t know yet, but it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure to ‘check’ each other out and see who out there has our personality in common. It’s important to note that there is no wrong personality type, incidentally. Some may seem more prevalent amongst those who like to raid, however.

These are the details as we’ve posted on the Paragon forum:

We here at Paragon have been planning to do this research with Ladan for some time already. It’s about all of us; World of Warcraft players and raiders. We are happy to launch this mini-research here on our site. We hope people will take the time, do the test and tell their friends about the idea. What’s this all about then? Read on if you want to find out, I’m posting this in behalf of Ladan:


Greetings! My name is Ladan and I’m a PhD research student based in the UK (at Durham University) and I’m researching World of Warcraft and WoW raiders in particular. My research site is Some of you may already be aware of the research I’ve been doing on the raiding culture and what distinguishes us from other gamers. So far I have some basic ideas about who we are and what is important to us, like the following:

* We have values–we often have a specific idea of what we expect in a good raider and what makes a good member of the raiding culture

* We are competitive–for many of us we want to excel and exceed expectations

* We like to work hard and play hard–many of us put in a lot of time to achieve success in raiding and to fine tune our characters

* We are willing to learn–we are ok with failure as long as we are learning and progressing

* We are outcomes focused–we live in a world that’s got a lot of goals and outcomes to aim for and we like that (we’ve even made our own ranking system, discussion forums, and theory crafting sites to support this!)

So what now? Well, my work continues apace (please check my site, vote in my polls, and add comments!) and I’m currently writing up my findings. But now I’ve got something new to share.

Paragon has been a huge help and support to my ongoing research and I’m excited to announce a new mini-research project that we’re launching together!

Some time ago, members of Paragon (in their previous guild) did an informal personality test (the Myers-Briggs test) to ascertain what kinds of personalities their new raiders had and how they would fit into the pre-existing raiding team. This wasn’t meant to exclude members, but more to understand their approach to gameplay and how they would work on the team. Anecdotally, these members noticed a trend of more common ‘types’ of personalities who raided, most especially those who were the most successful at raiding.

We’d like to revive that test and see if we’ve got a trend of personality types among successful raider.

For some more information on personality types (if you want to know how accurate it is and if you see yourself in the description), see: and … _Indicator. If you want to see how rare or prevalent your personality type is, this is interesting: … evelopment.

What should you do:

1. First off, please complete the test:

Note: There are slightly different tests and I’m sure some may be better than this one, but to make this as accurate as possible, we want everyone to take the same test–also it only takes about 5 minutes at the most, so that’s not too painful.

2. Respond to this post with your resulting personality type. You can PM Xenophics or myself (at Ladan here) if you prefer privacy. The personality test result should look something like this:

Your Type is


Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging

Strength of the preferences %

11 62 50 33

(FYI, that’s my personality type… scary, I know.)

3. Then include the following info:

** Gender (M/F, pretty sure I didn’t need to explain this… :P )

** Type of server (eg: PVP/PVE/RP, etc)

** Horde or alliance and race (e.g. Horde/Blood Elf)

** Main class and spec played during raids (e.g. Priest: Shadow)

** Language and location of server (eg: EU-English, EU-Russian, etc.)

** A brief description of your type of raiding guild (e.g.: hard core, social/casual, elite, etc.)

NOTE on this: I’ve given some examples below of types of raiding guilds but feel free to come up with a different description or a hybrid of what I’ve suggested below–these definitions are troublesome, as I know you’d agree.

NOTE: What do I mean by hard core, elite and social/casual guilds?

HARD CORE: A guild that is primarily focused on raiding, is competitive and generally reaches high rankings on its server or their region (top 100, for example). This guild expects full or majority attendance (majority is something like 80% of the time) on its progress raiding nights. Hard core guilds are often extremely sociable in nature and do other things beyond raiding but raiding is its primary reason for existence.

ELITE: This is a guild that has achieved world or regional firsts in major raiding achievements (such as world first in the LK kill or US first on the Algalon kill). They are basically hard core in nature but they’ve reached an even higher level of achievement.

SOCIAL/CASUAL: A guild that is focused on raiding but also has social elements (social members, other activities beyond raiding) and generally a more forgiving schedule for guild members’ personal lives (families, work, school, etc.). It aims to achieve success in raiding but may not be as focused on high rankings or a strict attendance requirement. Like its hard core counterpart, social/casual guilds are often very competitive in nature and have skilled raiders but may have to accept a slightly lower success rate to accommodate its members and schedule.

Thanks! Now go test your personality. :) And BE HONEST! There is no wrong personality type.