Saga, over at Spellbound, recently celebrated her blog's first birthday. She has a beautiful blog, and is a wonderful writer. If you don't read her, well, you should! As part of her birthday celebrations she volunteered to come up with a topic for her commentators, and, bless her, gave me one that made me think:
"Okay, so for a topic.. Since you’ve recently started a gnome while you normally play horde.. How about a post comparing the two factions. Do you notice any difference in the players that you encounter as horde or as alliance – or is it really all the same in the end? Everyone always says that the kids play Alliance and the Horde are more mature players, do you find that to be correct or just an urban legend?"
Good fodder for a blog post, huh! I have to say that my gut reaction is that there's no difference in the player base of Horde or Alliance. But that was my instinct. As I've always said, I'm not good with numbers or data (and that is why I have a Himself who does this sort of thinking for me) but this is mah blog post, not his, so you're gonna have my opinion, not evidence-based, data-mined facts.
When I first started playing WoW, I read (a tiny bit of) the booklet thingy that came with the game and decided that the Horde were the 'bad' guys and the Alliance were the 'good' guys. Therefore I wanted to play Horde. Mwahahaha! My first character was an orc rogue. NB: This was just before TBC launched and I'd discovered belfies. I was utterly new to the concept of MMOs and it took me a while to start to interact with the community on my server. After a relatively short period of time I re-rolled Alliance and got guilded, levelled and raided. Then, with the advent of SAN I went back to being a Hordie, where I've remained until recently. I would, with my hand on my heart, say that for me, what makes the difference is the server, NOT the faction.
Let me explain. I'd spent all my time, until SAN, on a regular PvE server. RPers, on the whole, had a bit of a negative rep, which no-one ever felt able to explain other than a generalised "well... they're just weird aren't they?" thang. But it had itched away at me... what were these servers like? Were RPers really a bunch of cyber-lol'ing freaks? So when SAN came around I jumped for joy at having an excuse to RP. Huzzah. I adored Argent Dawn. Honestly, I cannot tell you how much I loved it there. People were polite, they talked (in the main) in complete sentences, free of smilies everywhere and the leet speak plague appeared to have bypassed them. However, this doesn't answer the question.
The guilds I raided with Alliance side were stuffed to the brim with adults. SAN was stuffed full of adults. I've gamed with teenagers on both sides. Do I think there is a marked difference in the player base? No. HOWEVER, with the perception of the good/bad Horde/Alliance divide, I would suggest that younger newcomers to the game might prefer to be on the side of the 'goodies'. Would your teenage son/daughter prefer to be a Jedi or a Sith? See, I'd go for Sith... proving... well, nothing. Other than I am, in fact, old...
But, if one adds to the good/bad divide the appearance of the races... the Alliance are more immediately identifiable with as, well they're all human-ish. And in the main, can be made to look attractive. Humans look... human. Dwarves are short humans. Gnomes are
evil cute small humans. Night elves are humans with elf ears. Draenei... should just have been Broken Ok, they don't look that human. Worgen are basically humans that howl at the moon (sorry, I know that they're lore-correct unlike the Draenei but I just can't get a handle on them.) On the other hand you have the Horde. Trolls are human-ish in form, but with scary tusks - it's kinda hard to make a 'pretty' troll. Tauren are... beasts. In the nicest way. Orcs are... rudimentary, somehow. Big and tough, human-like...ish. But not pretty. Undead are clearly humans but... rotted. Belfs... ok, yeah. Pretty. And that's just the boyz. Goblins = green gnomes? Sassy, rather than pretty, I'd say. Is it more likely that a 'younger' player will want (consciously or not) to roll an 'attractive' character?
In summary, and to answer Saga's question: I think that faction division based on age is an urban legend. That said, I'm always happy to be argued with - so if you think I'm incorrect... let me know!