Wednesday, October 13

Sociologist Parker Benth Publishes WoW Class Case Study

NOTE: This post is extremely interesting. I applaud Benth for his perseverance in publishing this case study. The Nov 2010 Vol 18 PAJS is available from online sites such as EBSCOHost for 79.99.

A Sociologist named Parker Benth has published a case study on World of Warcraft players and their classes in the November 2010 issue of the Public Access Journal of Social Science. Paired with articles on the controversies of library censorship and issues with CYWSHCN (Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs), Benth's article is significantly different than the others published in the journal at the same time.

PAJS articles go through academic scrutiny before the authors are paid and published. Benth's personal blog (Which was on but has since been taken down to prepare for his new book) described the rigid process of getting his article published in the academic journal of his choice.

Quote Originally Posted by Parker Benth
The task of publishing [your article] is arduous and time-consuming. It's the only thing that you can think about for months, and it's not for the money. You just want to see it get through and get published so people can read and even quote your work.

Benth also expressed a great desire for his article to be re-published and used as a piece of news on MMO news websites. We're happy to announce that MMOwned is the first of any such site to feature Mr. Benth's wonderful case study.

The study, titled "Socioeconomic Mirror Thesis for World of Warcraft", deals with the ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds of World of Warcraft players on all types of servers, and how their real-world conditions affect their class choice. Benth stated that the pool was of a total of 5,000 players. 200 of those players were interviewed face-to-face, while a larger percentage of them filled out a document on Microsoft Word with their economic history, or did a face-to-face interview over Skype.

The results of Benth's study are absolutely staggering. He was able to discern an observable pattern between real-life conditions and class choice in game. His abstract focused extensively on psychological context as well, stating that players with certain mental disabilities are geared towards different classes than people with totally sound minds. Benth's argument is impressively cogent and valid, and his thesis statement is as follows:

Quote Originally Posted by Parker Benth
It can be said that there are mirrored aspects of the real world (Earth) within the fictional world (Azeroth). While the differences of these two worlds are many, the similarities manifest themselves in ways that are not immediately understood. Since this is true, it follows that it is possible to associate real-world characteristics with in-game choices.

Benth leaves room to expand on his theory, since his document is less than 10,000 words, not including the associated data.


With an average of 5,000 players, Benth organized each class from largest to smallest of real-world net worth. He also based much of his data on professions. Classes near the bottom of the list tend to have more blue-collar and factory jobs than classes at the top of the list, for example.

1.) Warrior (An average of $89,000+ per year)

2.) Hunter
3.) Rogue
4.) Mage
5.) Shaman
6.) Druid
7.) Death Knight
8.) Priest
9.) Warlock
10.) Paladin (An average of <$30,000+ per year)

The question struck Benth, and probably anyone else who read this list. Why do people who have greater incomes pick the Warrior over the Mage, Warlock, Hunter, Shaman, Paladin, or Rogue? Benth makes the following conclusion:

Quote Originally Posted by Parker Benth
...[players] with the highest income playing Warriors as their class is not really that surprising. If one wants to get philosophical, a Warrior is a bare-bones class with no magic ability and single-minded purpose. Since people with higher incomes statistically lead happier and longer lives, the desire for playing a class like a Priest who can do miracles, or a Warlock who can wreak irreversible damage to their enemies is less appealing than your average Joe. They don't need to play a fantastical class because they're in a world much unlike the rest of the world, where money can perform as many miracles as a Priest. Notice that the

Quote Originally Posted by Parker Benth
Rogue and Hunter along with the Warrior are at the top of the list of income. These are the three major physical damage (which means damage that is done by weapons and not by magic) classes in the game World of Warcraft. For those not familiar with the game, there are a variety of different "roles" that players must perform in a group to work together. The three previously mentioned classes are all damage dealers and "tanks", or people who absorb damage using their armor. The theorybreaker seems to be the Mage at first, but when you think about it, the Mage is actually quite a bland spell-caster compared to the Warlock or the Priest. Trivial moves such as conjuring bread or water really paint the Mage to be an ordinary guy with magic powers. Paladin being at the bottom of the list also corresponds to the theory. Paladins are perhaps the most fantastical class of World of Warcraft. Their magic can reverse death, protect others from lethal blows, and smite demonic armies with the wave of a claymore. A person who is oppressed by death and restricted by income corresponds with the Paladin class because the Paladin is the savior, the martyr, the hero. They can do things that [we] would never be able to do in [our lives]...


Benth asked the pool of 5,000 players their ethnic background. They were given a standard US Census form answer sheet for the proceedings. Minorities were scaled in equal ratio with Caucasians to account for popular class choices for minority races.

1.) Paladin: Caucasian

2.) Warrior: Caucasian
3.) Hunter: Caucasian
4.) Shaman: Caucasian
5.) Priest: Asian/Pacific Islander
6.) Warlock: Caucasian
7.) Death Knight: Asian/Pacific Islander
8.) Mage: African American/Black
9.) Rogue: Hispanic
10.) Druid: Caucasian

Quote Originally Posted by Parker Benth
It is harder to make a conclusive observation from the ethnic data. Men are the majority players in the game, but only by a small percentage. African American men are statistically taught to be pragmatic problem solvers and are encouraged to hide their emotions and doubts to pursue a goal. (117 Rodgers) Because of this cultural tendency, we can conclude partially that African American [people] might see the Mage as a pragmatic class that [solves problems].

Benth was unable to make any other conclusions based upon the economic data.


The classic theory of women preferring healing classes does not ring true with Benth's report:

1.) Paladin: Male

2.) Warrior: Male
3.) Hunter: Female
4.) Shaman: Female
5.) Priest: Male
6.) Warlock: Female
7.) Death Knight: Male
8.) Mage: Male
9.) Rogue: Male
10.) Druid: Female

Quote Originally Posted by Parker Benth
My research grant both required and compelled me to either validate or disprove previous sociological theories of gender and class choice, which are plentiful. The data is more accessible and the study is more wide-encompassing and marketable; there are many ethnicities and classes in the world, but there are only two genders. Past theories have come to many conclusions, but the most popular of them cite that men prefer damage dealing and hybrid classes, and women statistically prefer healers. This is not the case in my pool, because women prefer the
Quote Originally Posted by Parker Benth
Druid, Warlock, Hunter, and Shaman. Two of those are hybrid classes, only two of them can heal, and all of them do damage.


Benth studied how the American players identified politically. He was interested in understanding how political opinions determine class choice.

The pool was given three choices:

1.) Democrat
2.) Republican
3.) Independent

1.) Paladin: Republican

2.) Warrior: Democrat
3.) Hunter: Democrat
4.) Shaman: Democrat
5.) Priest: Republican
6.) Warlock: Republican
7.) Death Knight: Democrat
8.) Mage: Republican
9.) Rogue: Independent
10.) Druid: Democrat

Parker Benth plans to conclude his WoW Sociological study with a new blog and book. There is no release date set, but Benth plans to release his book by Q2 2011 at the latest.

5 kommentarer:

Steevo said...

I wonder if his gender data conclusions would change if he took class role into account? Rather than focusing on which class you are playing to decide if male/female social stereotypes fit, you take into account what the player is doing with that class.

It would also help to clarify some of his assumptions. For example, rather than assuming a female would rather deal damage because she plays a class that can deal damage can easily be clarified by asking, "When you play your character are you normally a Tank, DPS, or Healer?"

Shoggoth said...

I call shenanigans. I am the exact opposite on all of these data points.

I am a Caucasian male who makes 89k+ and I play a Priest/Paladin...

When I first started playing WoW I picked a rogue (one of the top earners) but I was making about 40k at the time. Again, opposite of the study...

Anonymous said...

This librarian also calls shenanigans.
Because the journal DOESN'T EXIST.
Parker Benth DOESN'T EXIST.
Does no one know how to use Google anymore?

Anonymous said...

This data would make me Asian, male, and Republican, none of which are true; but anyone who's going to say that kind of thing has to keep in mind that your individual account and even the account of every single person you personally know who plays WoW is not statistically significant if this guy did his study properly. Individual testimonial < heaping pile of statistical data.

RavingNoah on 14 Oct 2010, 02:56:00 said...

I truly grieve for the future of the species when something like this can be so easily and widely disseminated so quickly. I've been running a modest fact-checking mission (a consequence of my bullshit detector, amount of available free-time, and natural curiosity), and my efforts have failed to turn up any evidence that such a journal exists. The addition of tiny details, like "this article (which has a time-forward projection...nice!) is available from EBSCO (an actual service provider...nice!) for 79.99." Another nice touch is the blurb about how this information was part of a pre-existing online (informal) site, it has since been removed in anticipation of being collated into an actual publishing effort.

Neither EBSCO, JSTOR, Ezproxy, Google, or open prayers for insight into the truth underlying this farce list such a journal, or even the semblance of a person connected to anything related to sociology...or any 'ology for that matter.

I conducted this search on October 13, 2010 between noon and 5:00pm.

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