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Sep 27, 2006



In other news...WoW addicted college students attempt to con someone (who?) into thinking their actually doing research instead of wasting time playing a game.

My question is, in what way does "studying" WoW prepare a student for life after college?


$27 an issue seems kind of steep. I also can't figure out if they really sell individual articles electronically, or if they're just teasing me about the possibility.

Any chance of reading these papers through something a little more accessible like ACM's digital library?


Jon -- The answer to your question is in the sidebar. There are at least three articles on the connection between virtual worlds and education. If you quickly skim those, you should have a basic answer to your question. If you're still not convinced, bring your questions back to the group, and I'm sure you'll find plenty of opinions.

Ken -- The entire framework of academic publishing is in crisis right now. $27 an issue is more than steep. When you consider that most of the labor (i.e. the research and the peer review) is completely unpaid, it is highway robbery. GAMES AND CULTURE is not unique in this respect.

Unfortunately, for most scholars, promotion and tenure is based upon a certain number of publications in recognized journals. We need to place the articles in well regarded journals in order for the research to count. Those journals are typically affiliated with publishers that charge $27 an issue.

If we had our way, I'm sure that most of us would immediately post our data in PDF with some sort of open source license. In fact, many authors do include links to their publications in their CV, figuring that academic publishers don't have the resources to stop them. So, if you're trying to find an article, you might want to Google the author's name (in quotes) followed by the word CV. You can also send a short, explanatory message to the author and ask if they can send you a copy of their work. Most researchers would be flattered.

The good news is that you can get a free trial subscription at:


Really, this crisis in academic publishing is far more important than the topic of virtual worlds. If you're upset about being charged $27 an issue -- as you should be -- please talk to your librarians and other rabble rousers about how you can get involved with efforts (e.g. "Creative Commons") to make this type of information more accessible.


Thanks for the pointers Aaron. I know I had the same reaction to seeing $27/issue as Ken did and had no idea what the real rationale behind that was.



I've started reading the journal, and it's good reading. One thing that caught me up, however, was within the article by Ducheneaut, et al, I think that discussion of the time spikes on the 19, 29, 39 etc level is on the wrong track.

"These commitment spikes are probably due to the distribution of new skills and talents in the game at different levels. There are more new skills learned at every 10th level, and the talent tree is designed to allow access to a new tier of talents at every 10th level. The spike right before Level 40 is more dramatic probably because characters also get access to traveling mounts at Level 40 in addition to
the new set of skills and talents. In other words, players spend more time playing when they are just about to reach these high-reward levels."

IMO, these spikes are instead largely reflective of the impact of the PvP battlegronds on the levelling process. Blizzard's choice to allow the generation of XP to be optional within the BG directly allow pausing in the levelling process. Battlegrounds are organized by decades, and players intentionally choose to pause their levelling process in order to enjoy the benefits of being at the top of their decade. I think this is also borne out by the graph which seems to suggest the 19, 29 and 39 pauses are most significant, since this seems to be the most commonly chosen levels for the "twinking" subculture, where people work to create overpowered characters for the level decade they're playing in.

That said, this is a minor criticism - I'm impressed with the framework and the collection tools described in the paper, and it's definitely worth the read.


Hi Eric - good point! I wish I had included this in the printed version of the paper, there was a similar discussion on our blog a while back. I think you're entirely right, BGs also contribute to the spikes. It's hard to say if they have more or less influence than the game's skill structure but they play a role for sure.


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I think this research has great value, especially to game developers. The more they know about how and why gamers act in a game the better they can create new games that will be even more appealing to players.

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