Szell and Thurner say the data reveals clear and significant differences between men and women in Pardus.
For example, men and women interact with the opposite sex differently. “Males reciprocate friendship requests from females faster than vice versa and hesitate to reciprocate hostile actions of females,” say Szell and Thurner.
Women are also significantly more risk averse than men as measured by the amount of fighting they engage in and their likelihood of dying. They are also more likely to be friends with each other than men.
These results are more or less as expected. More surprising is the finding that women tend to be more wealthy than men, probably because they engage more in economic than destructive behaviour.
“These results conﬁrm quantitatively that females and males manage their social networks drastically different,” say Szell and Thurner.
Of course, there are important questions over the extent these findings reflect gender differences in the real world. One obvious problem is that of gender swapping: men who play as women and vice versa. Szell and Thurner say that other studies have shown that around ten per cent of online gaming populations engage in gender swapping. They say there’s no reason to think this would be any different in Pardus and that it shouldn’t effect the results.
A more serious problem could be the well known phenomenon that women tend to receive better treatment in male-dominated online gaming communities. Indeed, Szell and Thurner say they can see evidence of this in their data. That’s something they’ll need to look into in more detail.
There s one group for whom this kind of study will be invaluable: advertisers and marketeers. That makes it potentially valuable form a commercial point of view.