Researchers have developed a tool that can be used to predict the behavior of players in online games. Knowing a player's likely next move could be used to improve the quality of play.
You may well feel you can predict the behavior of online gamers without doing any research, but there is a bit more to the findings than you might imagine.
The researchers say they can predict what a game player will do next with up to 80 percent accuracy. OK, so this *is* World of Warcraft players we’re talking about, but the techniques could well be expandable to other games and non-gaming applications.
(World of Warcaraft image Sunsetter from Cactus)
The researchers from North Carolina State University analyzed the behavior of 14,000 players in World of Warcraft, and used the data to create a data-driven method that predicts what the player will do next.
"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 researchers say the tool could be used to develop new game content, or to suggest other parts of a game the players would enjoy perhaps along the lines of
"there are more Orcs over there, Depravo, as you enjoyed killing this horde".
In World of Warcraft players earn achievement badges when they complete tasks or accomplish a series of goals, and the researchers evaluated the achievement badges earned by the players and the order they obtained their badges to see how individual achievements were correlated to other achievements.
Based on this, the team identified groups of achievements they called cliques that were closely related and could 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. This might seem blindingly obvious to anyone who has ever played a game, but many of the cliques that the researchers identified consist of 80 or more different achievements.
While some groupings were very obvious, others were less so, but still turned out to be highly correlated. For example, the badges for world travel and skill in unarmed combat turn out to be highly correlated, even though there is no clear link between the two badges.
The researchers, who will present the paper on their findings at the Foundations of Digital Games Conference in Bordeaux, France, June 29-July 1, say that their work isn’t just limited to World of Warcraft, as it applies wherever you’d like to predict what users will decide to do next, including other types of games and more commercial applications such as online retailing.
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