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Keywords:

  • Massively multiplayer online games;
  • playing time;
  • self-report errors;
  • unobtrusive measures;
  • large-scale data

Abstract

Using Cognitive Dissonance and Balance Theory, this study investigates factors that predict how and why MMO players inaccurately report their game playing time. It was hypothesized that players belonging to categories other than the stereotypical game player (e.g. younger, less educated, male) would be likely to underreport playing time. It was also hypothesized that those players who held less positive attitudes toward the game would be more likely to underreport their playing time. Comparing people's self-reported weekly usage of an MMO, EverQuest II, with their actual average weekly usage of the game, data showed that age, education, lack of enjoyment playing the game, and lack of an online sense of community predicted greater levels of underreporting.