Qualitative Research Coding Activity

Joey Hector and Miles Purcell


Research Questions:

Why did people start playing WoW?

Why do people continue playing WoW?

(Note: We didn’t use previous data in our counting)


People who Play WoW (Stage 1 and 3):

Why people started:

  • Friends/Family already played it. (ex. “i had a friend that played the game a lot” “I started playing in Kindergarten because my older brothers played and it looked cool”) (7)

Why people continue to play:

  • Lore/World (ex. “I like the thematic of the actual races and creatures in azeroth, the game has this cartoony-fantasy style to the creatures and I always liked that.” “What made you keep playing? Lore. Is there anything specific about the lore? The depth of the characters and their effect on the world.”) (2)
  • Gameplay/Mechanics (ex. “I really enjoy the PvP” “The quest system in the game was very fun.  I also like exploring the world and getting loot.” “It’s a great game and the expansions are fun”) (11)
  • Social Interaction (ex. “…i chat with friends” “I also play WoW because the people, they’re so nice and friendly. Heck even th mean people. I love everyone! What’s not to love about this community?”) (3)
  • Stress Relief (ex. “I play because it is a good stress reliever” “I play WoW because it’s a nice release from the real world”) (4)

People who don’t Play WoW (Stage 2):

Why they think people start playing WoW:

  • Friends told them about it. (ex. “all their friends are playing it.” “They start because someone else that they know already plays the game.”) (3)
  • Gameplay/Mechanics (ex. “For entertainment.”) (4)

Why they think people continue playing WoW:

  • Social Interaction (ex. “They think they will find people with similar interests.” “Because their friends are playing it and they don’t want to feel left out.”) (5)
  • Entertainment/Gameplay (ex. “Because its interactive” “Because it’s fun and a challenge, which they enjoy.”) (4)
  • Stress Relief (ex. “it’s probably a release from the stresses of everyday life” “To escape reality”) (3)


  • Addiction (ex. “I think it’s because once they start, you get to keep having progress throughout the game and there’s never an end so you keep playing.”) (2)
  • Story/Lore (“Because the storyline and quests are cool”) (1)


Our motivation for asking our research question was spurned by an interest in whether or not perceptions of WoW player motives aligned with the reasoning of actual players. Are the recorded assumptions correct? So, we asked “are there discrepancies between self reported and speculated reasons for why people play WoW?”


We used an inductive coding and human analysis to categorize the responses into three main categories: “social”, “gameplay”, & “health”. Categories were chosen if the appearance of data was greater than two. We used a mix of in-game and out-game interviews totaling at 15.


Predicted reasons for playing WoW were much closer to self reported, however, some predicted reasons varied more widely, with many of the predictions not appearing frequent enough to be counted as categories in their own right.

Self reported reasons for playing WoW by category are as follows: Social = 10, gameplay = 11, health = 4. Predicted reasons gave us the following results: Social = 8, gameplay = 8, health = 3. It should be noted that the total value of both predicted and self reported is great then the number of interviews (15), because more than one question was asked per interview and often responses qualified for more than one category.


Here are some exemplar quotes for each category:

Social – “I also play WoW because the people, they’re so nice and friendly. Heck even the mean people. I love everyone! What’s not to love about this community?”

Gameplay – “It’s a great game and the expansions are fun”

Health – “I play because it is a good stress reliever”


Using the three main categories we found you could possibly attempt to survey a wider population about why they choose to play the game. This would help better understand the proportions of why people play the game and could also serve to check that this data does apply to the general majority of WoW players and not just to the small sample size that was interviewed.

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