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What can WoW and other MMOs teach us about literature and storytelling?

What can WoW and other MMOs teach us about literature and storytelling
While the world of academia has not infrequently pried back the edges of World of Warcraft to peer through its lens into fields including psychology, sociology and anthropology, and economics, we don't often hear reports from the intersection of WoW and literature. With a lore and canon of their own making, WoW and the Warcraft world don't fit alongside such developments as Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative, a course from Vanderbilt University available via free online educational provider Coursera that leans heavily on the riches of narrative theory, intermediality, and game theory in Lord of the Rings Online.

But there's no denying the omnipresence of WoW's influence -- and yes, that includes within the ivory-tooled tower of literature, as well. "I'm a literature professor," states Dr. Jay Clayton, one of the Coursera class's instructors. "I'm fascinated by what games can teach us about the operations of storytelling." Dr. Clayton says he's hoping to attract WoW players and their own WoW-tinged perspectives to his class this summer in order to help build a more complete picture of what WoW is itself as media, not only as a lens through which we can view other disciplines.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Author of World of Warcraft and Philosophy interviewed

World of Warcraft and Philosophy got released a little while back -- it's a book by Luke Cuddy and John Nordlinger that examines WoW-related topics like roleplaying and the Corrupted Blood plague, and ties them into philsophical ideas and thinking. TechFlash has now posted an interview with Nordlinger, and it's a good read as well. Nordlinger says that one reason they chose to talk about World of Warcraft in this way is that it's so incredibly big -- when you have 12 million (give or take a few at this point) people playing a game with a GDP larger than some smaller nations, you're going to touch on all sorts of interesting ethical, moral, and other philosophical ideas. He says the book has been pretty popular, and a few universities are currently considering teaching courses based on the material, not only because it's interesting, but thinking about the game in this way helps improve abstract thinking in general.

And perhaps most interesting, he says that reading the book could help players better make ethical and moral decisions in the game. Just ninja-ing the mount from an Onyxia raid might not mean much to you, but when you look at the bigger picture, and what those actions mean for ethics in general, Nordlinger says the book might help players "make more aware decisions, if not different decisions." Of course, in practice, trying to explain higher philosophy to ninjas might not have the desired effect, but it does seem true that exploring the higher meanings of this game and the intents of the people playing it might put a little more meaning into the pixels as well.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

15 Minutes of Fame: WoW 101 -- yes, WoW for college credit

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

WoW.com's Adam Holisky has been itching to take a WoW course for quite a while now -- so Adam, this 15 Minutes of Fame is for you. While some people still don't get that playing WoW doesn't lead to becoming a college dropout, there are plenty of others who recognize the game to be a rich resource not only as entertainment but even as a venue for anthropological research.

And now, this: "Warcraft: Culture, Gender and Identity," a credit-awarding class being offered at Inver Hills Community College in Minnesota. At the helm of this innovative course is Landon Pirius, Ph.D., also known as Nodnal the Gnome Warrior of Blackwater Raiders-US. No stranger to the convergence of WoW and academia, Dr. Pirius wrote his doctoral dissertation on "Massively Multiplayer Online Virtual Environments: A Potential Locale for Intercultural Training." We didn't go quite that deep in this interview; we simply visited with him about his wildly successful college course and how it's helping shape modern educational methodologies.

And before you ask -- yes, Dr. Pirius returned the answers to our interview questions in impeccable outline form.

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Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

College Gaming League 3v3 Arena Tournament


Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft 3v3 Arenas are part of the new College Gaming League, the first official amateur league partner of the Championship Gaming Series. The Dell-spearheaded venture works with Intel and Microsoft to offer educational discounts and PC bundles for students, faculty and staff at numerous partner schools all over the United States. Students and faculty at Dell University partner schools can register and receive benefits like special offers on games and systems, access to public game servers, and compete in tournaments.

Among the tournaments -- which include Xbox 360 and PC games -- is the World of Warcraft 3v3 Arena competition. Registration began last August 21 and closes on September 11, while the official matches span from September 15 to October 5. Loot up for grabs are three Alienware m15x notebooks as Grand Prizes, three Microsoft Zune players as First Prizes, and three $50 Dell gift cards for the runners-up. It's an underwhelming selection past the Grand Prizes, to be sure, but registration is free and members can participate in other tournaments with a host of other prizes to be won. Initiatives like these certainly give students something to while away their time... after they've submitted those term papers, of course.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Arena

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