Sociologist and director of Human-Centered Computing at the National Science Foundation, William Sims Bainbridge spent 2300 hours entrenched in popular MMO World of Warcraft, looking for look for insights about Western civilization. What did he find there?
William Sims Bainbridge, Ph.D., is no spring chicken, but he braved the wilds of Azeroth for 2200 hours, playing each of the 10 races, all 10 classes, and mastering several professions, all in the name of finding parallels between the game world and the world most of us live in. He delivers his findings in his book, "The Warcraft Civilization: Social Science in a Virtual World," now available from Amazon.com and wherever fine books are sold.
Bainbridge begins each chapter of the book with a character commentary from one of the 22 roles he played during those 22 hours, using them as a diving board to launch into exploration of major social issues from the character's point-of-view. Through his experience in the game, he tackles issues of religion, learning, cooperation, economy, and more.
From the book's Amazon description:
In The Warcraft Civilization, sociologist William Sims Bainbridge goes further, arguing that WoW can be seen not only as an allegory of today but also as a virtual prototype of tomorrow, of a real human future in which tribe-like groups will engage in combat over declining natural resources, build temporary alliances on the basis of mutual self-interest, and seek a set of values that transcend the need for war.
It seems to me like Dr. Bainbridge got a lot more out of the game than fat loot. It should make for a fascinating read. Consider it ordered.