Posted by: Sean | January 5, 2009

Cawfee Tawk: What are we playing, and why?

Differences between Non-RP and PVP servers with Player RacesAin’t it pretty? That, my friends, is the shift between a normal server (That is, PVE or PVP) and a role-playing server (RP or PVP/RP) in terms of which races are played, courtesy of Warcraft Census. Since I couldn’t get the actual values up there, here they are in a nice chart.

Draenei +0.67%
Dwarves -3.62%
Gnomes -0.03%
Humans +0.65%
Night Elves +1.18%
Blood Elves +2.43%
Orcs -0.38%
Tauren -0.39%
Trolls +0.44%
Undead -0.99%

What can we make of this?

First off, there’s pretty much zero difference here in almost all cases. If you don’t believe me, go and crunch the numbers for the difference between PVE and PVP style servers; where humans are a massive 8.43% less popular in PVP servers than on PVE ones. That’s a statistically significant number. These really aren’t. The most important truth of all these numbers is: We play what most people on PVE servers play.

To my mind, this means this: We play the races we play for probably the same reasons. That is, we think this race looks cool. We like the racials on this one. We enjoy the starting zone more for that one. Lore? C’mon. How many non-RPers pay attention to lore? Role-play possibilities? They don’t care about those.

Folks, like it or not, we’re as shallow (or deep) as everyone else. We are not special snowflakes.

That said, for what it’s worth, there are a few myths we can bust here.

  • Myth: Alliance are the role-play faction, Horde are the PVP faction. Absolutely not. Moving away from vanilla PVE or PVP style servers, RP servers actually reported a 1.17% shift toward the Horde. Yes, more role-players play Alliance than Horde, but that’s because more Alliance are played overall. They’re just in line with the standard. You can argue that PVE is Alliance, and PVP Horde, but the statistics don’t lie: Role-players prefer the Horde more than standard PVE players. Myth busted!
  • Myth: All role-players are ERPing perverts who want to play sexy Blood Elves. Like it or not, these numbers don’t refute the myth. The big winners of the set were the Blood Elves, who drew an extra 2.43% among role-players. It’s not a massive leap, but it’s notable. For one reason or another, Blood Elves resonate among role-players. Myth plausible.
  • Myth: Role-players don’t like playing ugly races, they only want to play tall, pretty races. Meh. True, tall, attractive races like the Draenei, Humans, Night Elves and Blood Elves all recorded gains. The ‘ugly’ races like orcs and undead had losses, and the short race of dwarves had the biggest shift of the set, either positive or negative, at -3.62%. Gnomes came out more or less dead even, but that may be because they’re short but cute. Upsetting the apple cart, however, are the trolls: They’re an ugly bunch, but had a positive gain. That said, pretty much anything under 1% isn’t even worth considering. The real takeaway here would be: Role-players like elves. They don’t like dwarves. The rest is just noise. Myth plausible, but shakey.

OK, but what about classes? Glad you asked, but really, if the race numbers were underwhelming, wait until you see the class ones.

Differences between Non-RP and RP servers in Player ClassesIt doesn’t quite look it, but those numbers are on the same scale as the races. As you can see, there is no difference between the numbers for Death Knights, both hovering at around 17%. And nothing recorded a statistically signifigant shift.

OK, your turn, folks. I’m verklempt. Discuss amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic. Death Knights are neither dead, nor knights. Discuss.

(Or, alternatively, discuss these numbers.)


  1. What I want to know is why dwarves are so unpopular. Maybe all the people who play the short, ugly dwarves on other severs for the Stoneform racial ability play sexy blood elves on RP servers, because they’re ERPing perverts.

  2. Dwarves had a +5.94% increase from PVE to PVP realms, so it’s definitely possible. The Stoneform ability is clearly prized in PVP.

    One thing which I do theorise is that people who play on PVP servers value the racials a lot more than people on PVE servers, who tend to value the look of a character more.

  3. I play on both a PVE server and an RP server. I started on a PVE server because I like the exploration, the lore, and seeing as much of the game as I can. I’m not so interested in fighting other players, although I duel sometimes if challenged.

    Consequently I have a lot of alts. I have characters in every race but gnome and every class but mage (just random, I don’t have anything against gnomes or mages, but I just don’t like repeating starting areas with anything but a hunter so that’s how it worked out :P).

    It would be interesting to add alts into the mix and see how many characters of different races and classes people tend to have on different servers. I have really enjoyed learning the different classes, especially when it starts to click, and seeing how my characters develop differently.

  4. My first characters ever were a Human Warlock and Human Paladin.

    These days?

    In order of playtime…

    Draenei Warrior, Draenei Death Knight, Draenei Shaman, Human Warlock, Human Paladin, Draenei Mage, Gnome Rogue.

    From a gameplay point, I play Draenei because of the racials. Yes, the race itself is attractive (at least the female side, anyway), but Gift of the Naaru and Heroic Presence are too big of a deal to pass up, because it means I can focus less on stacking hit rating in encounters. If the classes were available to them, I probably wouldn’t play anything else.

    From an RP standpoint, there were some interesting roleplay options – my warrior, Lelissa, and her sister (the death knight) were both survivors of the Exodar crash… but when Lelissa’s sister ventured forth (after a long period of time spent in Intensive Care both as a patient and as a healer), she was captured and made over again in Arthas’ own image… a real shame, given that the sister was once a paladin.

    As far as the rest… I don’t play the paladin as much anymore, and the gnome… well, the gnome has been shelved. Adorable as they may be, I’m tall in real life, and I can’t adjust to viewing the world at hip-level.

  5. You ever tried going into first person view as a gnome? I recommend every gnome player try it at least once. It’s staggering to view the world from that height.

    Incidentally, for me? My mains are an undead warrior and a gnomish rogue. My alts are a human death knight, an orcish death knight, and a tauren warrior.

    What can I say? I’m just not into the casting.

  6. Not exactly surprising that people prefer to play with the more perceived pretty races. But I also think, what plays a part is lore.

    Because if you look at the races in the decline, most of them lore wise have very little. The gnomes, dwarves and tauren lore is fairly small. The undead, solely taken as a faction have not much lore as they have only existed briefly. But of course, orc’s have lots of lore but I guess in there case, the looks aren’t liked to such a degree that there lore can’t save them.

    Course on the other hand, if you look at the races who increased. Some have little lore to them too. Like the trolls, have very little but them being all cool and funky make them fun to play. And the blood elves and draenei still got the new car smell on them, so they shall always be heavily played just like the death knights are now.

    I guess the point is, we like to go with what is fun to play for us. A lot of that is looks, a lot of that is perceived fun one can have with lore or just in general. Or some even go with racials like Pixelated Executioner, which is understandable as it means playing the game itself is more fun.

    But either way, it becomes apparent that we will decide to play or not play something no matter how much are hardcoreness like us to choose the other path. Like not playing orcs because we think they are ugly despite all the wonderful lore they have or deciding to play the draenei because of there look, when lore wise they are almost as flimsy as gnomes.

    Course I personally, like play all the races and classes. Though I will always favor gnomes, for many reasons. 😀

    And I think after seeing the enormous lack of dwarf love, I shall do something about that in the future…

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