Forget the infamous $600 toilet seat. When it comes to tax dollar expenditures that might raise an eyebrow, how does $100,000 to research how Americans play World of Warcraft sound?
As reported by the Orange County Register, Prof. Bonnie Nardi (left) of the University of California Irvine, received the $100K grant from the National Science Foundation for the project. At issue: why American players go to greater lengths to mod the popular MMO than do Chinese WoW players.
You can't make this stuff up.
Said Nardi, not surprisingly a WoW player herself:
We are examining the many reasons for this disparity, including cultural and institutional factors. The vast majority of Chinese players are not ‘gold farmers’... They’re ordinary players like anyone. The media has blown that story out of all proportion. Many people think Chinese play for a job. They play for fun...
[The] Chinese have invented some interesting ways to play with the in-game economy... Ways that I have not observed here in two years of studying ‘World of Warcraft.’ Chinese players are more attuned to the aesthetics of the game... They talked more about color schemes, animations, architecture, and so on more than American players...
Here and in Europe and Australia/New Zealand people play with parents and event grandparents. Not in China. The older generation dislikes video games. People here play with brothers and sisters. But in China people don’t have brothers and sisters for the most part, so friend relationships are very important.
GP: Okay, so I'm trying to imagine the budget request for this grant:
- WoW - $19.99
- Burning Crusade Expansion - $29.99
- Pre-order Lich King Expansion - $39.99
- Hot Alienware PC - $3,000.00
- Strategy guide - $24.99
- 12 month WoW subscription - $180.00
- Power leveling service - $250.00
- Ample supply of black market WoW gold - $1,000.00
- TOTAL: $4,544.96
So... the rest is going for pizza and energy drinks?
I'm having a larf at Prof. Nardi's expense here, of course, but her research does sound interesting. Maybe not $100K worth of tax dollars interesting, but interesting all the same...