Our good friends at the OC (don't call it that) Register have an article up about how the University of California at Irvine has received a grant to study the differences between US and Chinese players of World of Warcraft. And the differences are fairly interesting: apparently US players use many more UI mods and addons than Chinese players do. Additionally, more Chinese players play the "more challenging version of the game" (seems like they mean PvP servers to us, though that may change with yesterday's big news), and Chinese players, say the researcher, tend to talk more about color schemes and architecture than American players. Finally, the demographics are fairly different -- here in the states, women make up 20 percent of the playing audience, and in China that number is almost halved. And while people here may play with parents or even grandparents, in China, the older generation isn't interested in the game at all.
These observations seem more to be based on anecdotal evidence of Chinese players in cafes more than anything else, but the study is just getting started, so maybe with some more research they can come up with some more solid numbers (or even more reasons) showing why this is the case. But it's interesting that inspecting how people play this game in two different countries can reveal something about the cultural differences between each.