Yesterday I received a very nice email from a fellow called Aaron, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Trinity University (Texas) asking for some help in promoting his research project. Being a former scholar (and easily susceptible to flattery) I, of course, agreed.
The project is called the Worldplay Research Initiative (WRI) and aims to explore the ‘issues associated with cross-cultural interactions in virtual worlds’, a topic that I actually wrote about back in July of this year in an article entitled (originally enough) ‘The Multicultural Aspects of MMORPGs’. Aaron read the article and found me through it, assuming I had a similar interest in the subject. He was right.
Aaron has approximately 18 students on his course Games for the Web, all contributing to his project and undertaking research into virtual worlds and MMOs. As part of their course, they each play different characters in Dungeons & Dragons Online and observe and interact with foreign players. They’re aims are to explore the internationality provided by these worlds and games and investigate how transnational cooperation affects players and can be nurtured and extended by both developers and the community.
All-in-all I think it’s a very cool project. As a Scot who’s played on both US and heavily mixed European servers in a variety of different MMORPGs, it’s something I find incredibly fascinating and a subject I hold dear to my heart. It’s like living in a little microcosm, just watching how people from different cultures interact, how each society evolves and how differently events are seen and undertaken (e.g. Koreans and Americans have vastly differing views on PvP).
If you want to read more about the Worldplay Project, check out the Trinity University webpage here.
There’s also a short 10 question online survey which Aaron would be incredibly delighted if anyone who had 5 minutes to spare could fill in. Hopefully you will find it as fun and interesting as I did.
My final thought is simply how jealous I am that I wasn’t able to do any sort of course like this when I was at university. In a contest between exploring the multicultural aspects of MMORPGs and learning about TCP/IP protocols and network transport layers, I know which wins. Hint: it’s not the networking.
P.S. Aaron’s also a big fan of Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green (as am I) and expressed how awesome and informative his comments are. I couldn’t agree more.