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WoW as training ground for scientific method

We've heard about WoW in the news due to addiction and spousal trouble. When scientists chat about the game, they tend to be interested in the dynamics of virtual worlds. Constance Steinkuehler from the University of Wisconsin is approaching WoW and science in a different light.

Constance noticed a specific dynamic when she watched Lineage players approach raiding with a familiar method. They'd form a hypothesis about a boss, test it, gather evidence, and then reform their hypothesis based on that evidence. For those of you following along at home, that's basically the "Scientific Method."

Steinkuehler tested for the use of Scientific Method in WoW by going to the official forums, and studying 2,000 threads. According to the results, 86% of the threads were focused on analyzing the ruleset of the game. The implication is that those posts use some scientific method to understand WoW's rules. (I wonder if "Nerf Rogues!" was included as meaningful content.)

The purpose of this study seems to be to reverse our youth's growing scientific illiteracy by using video games to exemplify scientific pursuits. Since science is often about the method of obtaining facts, and not just facts themselves, teachers might be able to use games to help students "L2Science." Sounds solid to me, but I'm still not sold on the forums being a fertile ground of meaningful content.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items, Forums

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