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The Scientific Research Potential of Virtual Worlds

Science  27 Jul 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5837, pp. 472-476
DOI: 10.1126/science.1146930

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Abstract

Online virtual worlds, electronic environments where people can work and interact in a somewhat realistic manner, have great potential as sites for research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, as well as in human-centered computer science. This article uses Second Life and World of Warcraft as two very different examples of current virtual worlds that foreshadow future developments, introducing a number of research methodologies that scientists are now exploring, including formal experimentation, observational ethnography, and quantitative analysis of economic markets or social networks.

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