Friday, October 27, 2006

Prof gets funding for virtual Shakespeare world

Reuters/Second Life » Prof gets funding for virtual Shakespeare world: "Prof gets funding for virtual Shakespeare world
Wed Oct 18, 2006 10:10pm PDT
By Adam Reuters
SECOND LIFE, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Indiana University Professor Edward Castronova has made a name for himself as an economist who studies virtual worlds. Now he’s been awarded a US$240,000 grant to create one himself, based on the world of William Shakespeare.
“What we plan to do is have people encounter the texts in Shakespeare and ideas in the text at many points within a really fun, multiplayer game, so without even knowing it, they gradually are learning more about the bard’s work,” said Castronova, (right) author of “Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games.”
But Arden, Castronova’s planned world, will have a hidden purpose beyond teaching: he plans to use it as a Petri dish for testing out economic theories by creating controlled experiments within the game’s population.
“You have two randomly selected populations and do a policy variation in just one of them,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview. “What if (Karl) Marx had been able to say ‘Hey, let’s try out communism, we’ll set up two worlds and in one the workers will own the means of production, and in the other they won’t, and we’ll see what happens to equality and growth and all these things we care about.”
It’s a strategy that could give social scientists unprecedented ways to test out their theories.
“If we set up parallel worlds and get people distracted to go hunt the dragons or something, behind the scenes we can run little experiments that they may not necessar"

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