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A lot of the differences may come down to the interpretation of Hardcore vs Midcore and Softcore when filling out the questionaire.

For example the large degree of bias towards the softcore in the mastermind group could be interpreted as players of that category not liking fast games. A player that finds fast games frustrating may rate themself as softcore even though they are willing to accept very large time penalties (1 hour+) in turn based games.

Nick: it's an interesting point... I might well investigate this in the case study phase. There may well be a case for people not wanting to consider themselves Hardcore for reasons not related to frequency of play or depth of game literacy.

I can confirm that for myself, at least. My frequency of play is very high and I do consider myself highly literate, but prior to reading a description of the outcomes, my idea of the meaning of "Hardcore" correlated essentially to the "Daredevil" and "Conqueror" classes (in which I scored 4 and 7, respectively), and was a description of taste more than expertise.

I'm curious to what constituates hardcore. I have a lot of friends who play competitively in all manners of online games, and I do consider them hardcore, but I'm the kind of person who don't mind grinding endlessly to achieve what I want, or play through Megaman 2 every week to keep up my edge, and can whistle the tunes of every stage.

What really defines hardcore in this case? I mean, I play at least once a day, but I'm nowhere near beating some of the specialized guys.

Mark, ChristianC:

The way the test works is to ask the respondent to self-classify as "Hardcore". Therefore, the results for people who self-classify as "Hardcore" is based upon people's own idea of what that means. And yes, that will include two different concepts of "Hardcore" - challenge-loving, on the one hand, and game literate on the other.

To be honest, the way that we statistically analyse the data, it doesn't actually matter how people respond to this question, as what we look for is correlations between individual questions. Even though people might be judging this question on different criteria, we might still get statistically significant correlations between this question and other parts of the data. And if we don't, we'll find statistical significance elsewhere in the data. :)

The conventional way the research community considers Hardcore is based on frequency of play... I have always preferred to let people self-classify and not worry about the variation in meaning too much. But this test asks about frequency of play anyway, so we can judge correlations between frequency of play and other questions in the statistical analysis.

For reference, in the previous study (DGD2) we found that self-classifying as "Hardcore" correlated with high frequency of play, but self-classifying as "Casual" did not correlate with low frequency of play - since may people who choose to identify as Casual still play frequently.

Thanks for enquiring, and I hope this answer satisfies your curiosity! :)

I find it interesting that your data has such a high percentage of male respondents. Given that the whole issue of gender in gaming populations is such a controversial and highly debated topic, have you considered why more males are completing your survey than females? Is there some kind of self-selection bias going on in your collection of data? I am not a professional social scientist, but I know enough about it to know that this could cause a great deal of inaccuracy in your data.

As a female gamer myself, as well as someone who is studying game design in an attempt to change careers, I have a vested interest in seeing more data about women and girls who are gamers. If for some reason your survey is more appealing to male gamers than female gamers, or if the communication/advertising methods you are relying on tend to draw in more males than females, then perhaps you should look into how you could balance that. Perhaps you need to actively seek out female survey respondents, in order to ensure you are obtaining accurate data.

At least in terms of MMORPGs, Nick Yee certainly was able to obtain data from a wide variety of players, including a great many female players. Surely if he can manage to do that, you can too?

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