Exploration and Skill Acquisition in a Major Online Game

Abstract

Using data from a major commercial online game, Destiny, we track the development of player skill across time. From over 20,000 player record we identify 3475 players who have played on 50 or more days. Our focus is on how variability in elements of play affect subsequent skill development. After validating the persistent influence of differences in initial performance between players, we test how practice spacing, social play, play mode variability and a direct measure of game-world exploration affect learning rate. These latter two factors do not affect learning rate. Players who space their practice more learn faster, in line with our expectations, whereas players who coordinate more with other players learn slower, which contradicts our initial hypothesis. We conclude that not all forms of practice variety expedite skill acquisition. Online game telemetry is a rich domain for exploring theories of optimal skill acquisition.


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