Thursday, March 20, 2008

WoW Window into Real World Plots

I have yet to be sucked into any massively multiplayer online games... except for a brief 6 weeks last year when I was a pole dancer in Second Life, but that's a blog post for another day. This article from The Onion sums up my reservations about these games:
Why do we need to go out to have fun? Everything we could possibly want is right in WoW. Fine dining, theater, romantic sunsets—they're all there. The outside world just costs money, and I don't have a magic breastplate to protect me from people's stares. Come with me so I can treat you like the princess you are.
Yeah, I laugh at MMORPG romance, but I understand a desire for a more powerful place in the world and even, more so, the desire for a Second Skin, which happens to be the title of a new documentary about the gaming subculture. I haven't seen this film yet, but it's been reviewed as a balanced look at the benefits and addictions of online games.

Even for those on the outside of the gaming subculture there is some real-world value in studying these online worlds. In late January, economists were discussing the collapse of banks in Second Life, and today, Wired has an article about terrorist activity in WoW. Scientists are using the game to study how diseases spread, and terrorism experts are studying terrorists' tactical decision-making. Anyhoo, any serious article that contains an expert quote from "a level-60 mage" is worth reading.

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