Data and Dating

Yesterday at the Center for Games and Playable Media at UC Santa Cruz we had a speaker, Nic Ducheneaut, come give a talk on social science research in World of Warcraft. I wrote up an overview and will be posting the video and slides soon, but I wanted to zero in on the idea of compatibility and games.

Nic and his team were able to collect a massive amount of data on what gamers were doing, moment to moment, in WoW. They also surveyed a number of players and gave them personality tests. They discovered that you can actually predict fairly well what personality type the player is from reading their in-game actions (along with, it turns out, some demographic characteristics!) So what I want now is for someone to go through the data and look for correlations between personality and group affinity, because I’m curious about whether certain types of personalities that prefer certain play styles get along better with other personalities/play styles.

What you could do with this is help solve the biggest problem of both MMOS and dating sites: matchmaking that actually works! My idea is this: what if you built a dating site that had games on it; and people both played the games and took personality quizzes (a little like OK Cupid, who currently own the dating+data space, but with more actual clinical personality test support). They you start collecting data about which personalities tend to play with which other personalities — and I don’t know if like seeks like or if you can build complementary personality sets or what; and they start building a sophisticated matchmaking algorithm that suggests other players you might enjoy playing with. I would LOVE to build a start up around this idea! Or partner with the OK Cupid guys on this as they seem to really get the playful aspects of dating, and data.

This would, I think, make dating sites both more fun and more effective at helping you find truly compatible friends or potential lovers. Although one piece I don’t know if we can figure out from Nic’s WoW data is whether you can predict the success of a real-life friendship based on an online or in-game friendship. Hm….interesting stuff to think about.

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