moldybluecheesecurds 2

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Online gamers use science to win

When kids want to win in online games, they do two things:
1) Create a hypothesis
2) Gather data to test it (in a spreadsheet, of course).

A fascinating look at the way kids unknowingly bring the scientific method to their online, free-time pursuits.  In her survey of chat rooms for these online role playing games, the author found:

A majority [of posts] -- 86 percent -- were aimed specifically at analyzing the hidden ruleset of games.  More than half the gamers used "systems-based reasoning" -- analyzing the game as a complex, dynamic system. And one-tenth actually constructed specific models to explain the behavior of a monster or situation; they would often use their model to generate predictions. Meanwhile, one-quarter of the commentors would build on someone else's previous argument, and another quarter would issue rebuttals of previous arguments and models.

These are all hallmarks of scientific thought. Indeed, the conversations often had the precise flow of a scientific salon, or even a journal series: Someone would pose a question -- like what sort of potions a high-class priest ought to carry around, or how to defeat a particular monster -- and another would post a reply, offering data and facts gathered from their own observations. Others would jump into the fray, disputing the theory, refining it, offering other facts. Eventually, once everyone was convinced the theory was supported by the data, the discussion would peter out.
Too bad your average science class isn't so interesting (sorry, SPH).

No comments: