Towards Role Detection in Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds are a topic of steadily growing relevance. Some of the providers report user numbers that exceed the population of entire nations in the real world. Virtual worlds typically provide a high degree of complexity, which in some areas approaches the real world’s richness of detail. Without “living” in any given virtual world it is hard to get insights about that world and its inhabitants. Knowledge about users’ roles within a virtual world can be of socio-economical and scientific interest. Our ACM Computers in Entertainment article describes an automatic means of inferring such roles based on textual communication. We give an introduction into virtual worlds and formalize the task of virtual world role detection as well as evaluating its performance against a manually annotated large-scale corpus. We present and discuss various approaches towards virtual world role detection, showing that performance close to that of human judges can be achieved. We close by demonstrating a successful application of role detection in a free to play MMORPG.