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Smashing beasts for Science

kawendel-021To celebrate my recent completion of my Bachelor of Education from OISE/UT, I decided to have a little fun and re-open the World of Warcraft account laying dormant on my hard drive. Part of this decision was to kick back and have some well-deserved fun, but it was also to help me with my latest (top-secret) writing project about mmos, avatars and all that online fun stuff. When I rolled up my toon, I thought I would be a warrior, rogue, or shaman. I never thought I’d become a scientist. But that is exactly what happened.

About a month before I jumped into Azeroth, I read about a group of real world scientists and academic researchers who formed a guild to investigate the scientific possibilities of virtual worlds, like WoW.

In May, their guild, appropriately named Science, held a 3 day conference in Word of Warcraft and from all the blog posts and videos it’s clear it was a success. Over three days, in a variety of locations, including a goblin-infested pirate town and the sewers beneath a city of undead scientists and researchers discussed a range of topics investigating where science can travel in these academically uncharted lands. You can read a great round-up of the conference, written by guild leader and Gonzo scientist, Gonzorinia, at Sciencemag. And be sure to watch the video podcast which shows the conference in full swing.

These were some folks that I could game with! So, I jumped into the Earthen Ring server, rolled up Kawendel, my Tauren Shaman (at left) and started on my journey of (scientific) discovery. When Kaw (as he’s now known in the guild chat – much easier to just drop the wendel when typing) was about 10th level, he ran into another character who belonged to the Science guild. After a few quick messages, I was invited to join and ever since I’ve been smashing critters and collecting herbs in the name of science.

This afternoon, the guild is hosting another get together to talk science, virtual worlds and learning. I’ll be there with my horns on ready to learn. After that, a bunch of us are planning a run through the Wailing Caverns. There’s a alchemist in Thunder Bluff who’s paying good coin for spider ichor and I wouldn’t want to let him down.

Who says learning can’t be fun?

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