Probably much more than you think.
According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, in 2010, 67 percent of American households included at least one video game player, and the average gamer played for 8 hours a week. Scientists from the psychology department at the University of York saw this behavior as an untapped resource for research.
Professor Alex Wade and PhD student Athanasios Kokkinakis recently analyzed anonymous username data from the League of Legends, a video game played by about 70 million people worldwide. Interestingly, they discovered that a player’s choice of display name revealed a great deal about their age and personality both inside and outside the game.
500,000 data points were used for the analysis, including usernames and information on how players behaved in the game as well as reactions from other players.
The use of profanity or other antisocial expressions in players’ usernames correlated with the same players’ antisocial behaviors in the game environment. On the flip side, positive language in usernames correlated with positive in-game behavior, including rapid learning, team building and leadership.
The researchers also noted that numbers in usernames could indicate a player’s age, and that younger people acted more poorly than their older counterparts.
This study is the first of its kind to look at how players interact in multiplayer online battle arena games, but the researchers see many future possible applications.
“This data is like a window on individual players' personalities so we believe that we might be able to use video games a way of testing people's personalities […] We think this is just the tip of the iceberg — these massive datasets offer an unprecedented tool for studying human psychology across the globe," said Kokkinakis, a PhD student on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council-funded Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (IGGI) project.
The researchers hope that one day this type of data could help provide evidence for clinical disorders like autism, sociopathy or addictive personality.
Do you play a videogame? What does your username say about you?