NCSU News, Matt Shipman, 06.14.2011
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new method that can accurately predict the behavior of players in online role-playing games. 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.
"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. The research 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.
"In a game like World of Warcraft, which is constantly developing new content, this could help guide content design decisions," Harrison says.
... The researchers collected data on 14,000 players and the order in which they earned their achievement badges. The researchers 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. For example, if a clique consists of seven achievements, and a player has earned four of them, the researchers found that they will probably earn the other three. However, many of the cliques that the researchers identified consist of 80 or more different achievements.
One interesting element of these findings is that the achievements that are highly correlated - or part of the same clique - do not necessarily have any obvious connection. For example, an achievement dealing with a character's prowess in unarmed combat is highly correlated to the achievement badge associated with world travel - even though there is no clear link between the two badges to the outside observer.
The paper, "Using Sequential Observations to Model and Predict Player Behavior," by Brent Harrison and David L. Roberts, North Carolina State University, will be presented at the Foundations of Digital Games Conference in Bordeaux, France, June 29-July 1, 2011.