The National Science Foundation has awarded $100,000 to do a cross-cultural study of World of Warcraft — Bonnie Nardi, an infomatics professor at Irvine, will be looking at player gaming habits and culture in the United States and China. Nardi has already spent time in the field, observing WoW players in Beijing internet cafés; she's already noted some basic differences in play styles and similarities in culture, so I'm curious to see where she'll go from here:
"(The) Chinese have invented some interesting ways to play with the in-game economy (not the real world 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. At least they mention them more in interviews. They talked more about colour schemes, animations, architecture, and so on more than American players.
She notes that Chinese players are less likely to play with add-ons and modifications because they like the 'challenging' version of the game better. Well, whatever works. Nardi will be completing her research along with a doctoral student; hopefully her final paper will shed more light on little-studied areas and not just broad generalizations of the obvious.
UCI tackles 'World of Warcraft' mystery [OC Register]