I just came across a January 09 article on wow.com about Alex Golub, an anthropologist who is researching American culture by playing WoW. He’s a legit professor and was raiding (resto shaman) to immerse himself whilst simultaneously observing. He’d like to write a book on the topic. (He already has a PhD, so my article title is a tease ).
I think most academically-minded gamers would love the idea of researching a game by playing it. It appears Alex has found a genuine way to research new material, and have some fun.
He’s currently in Papua New Guinea, which is a speciality of his, continuing on some older research. Otherwise I’d have got in touch with him for an update.
The article is a must-read. Here’s a quote that made me smile:
You know, I am an intellectual with a Ph.D., and a lot of the guys in my guild are plumbers or work in factories or are college students who complain about school. So the problem was not being “objective” and not being able to be a guy — it was learning how to be a guy in the first place! I keep on talking about “suboptimal positioning” and they’re like “WTF, can’t Alex speak English?”, and then they’d talk about the game on TV and I’d be like “WTF is football?” So … yeah …
Read more interviews on pwnwear.