Sunday, June 29, 2008

World of Sciencecraft

Okay, cheesy title, but as you all know, making post titles is not my most impressive skill.

So, what is the title referring to? It's referring to what I believe is the first science conference held in a game universe.

The story is from Science, which apparently have a journalist, John Bohannon, writing gonzo style articles for them. This time it was about a science conference he helped set up in Azeroth.

The article is titled Slaying Monsters for Science

What can I say? It sounds like a fun event, and like there was some good debate going on. However, I frankly think it isn't a very productive way of holding conferences. Yes, there are some advantages of doing it this way, especially when the fields you are dealing with can relate to gaming universes, but it easily turn into too much play (as this conference also did).

That said, I found the part of the article that dealt with the conference rather fascinating. There were some very interesting points mentioned. A few that I found particular interesting were:

1) The fact that online gaming guilds can be used for studying social networks. I'm not sure that I totally agree, unless you only focus on online networks, as real human interaction tends to color behavior. We all know how trolls can be the nicest people possible when they are not busy flaming on the internet (yes, I have met trolls in real life).

2) It's often interesting to use gaming universes as labs, precisely because they are different from the real world, allowing scientists (and other researchers) to test assumptions. The example mentioned was economics, but I am sure that there are other social sciences where this could equally apply.

3) People act differently online, since they can be anonymous. In my eyes, this is both interesting to research, and a challenge to some types of research. In any case, it's something that should be taken into account when setting up the experiment.

I certainly find it relevant to use gaming universes as science labs for certain types of experiments. It's just necessary to always remember that it's an artificial lab, and it's under somewhat uncontrolled conditions in some aspects, and in overcontrolled/limited conditions in other aspects.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

July 02, 2008 3:06 AM  
Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

I have removed a post in Chinese that consisted of 3 links.

July 02, 2008 8:09 PM  

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