Prof gets $100,000 to play World of Warcraft

America is in recession, but that doesn’t stop some people from throwing public money around like it was made of leaves and snow. Prof. Bonnie Nardi of the University of California Irvine has been given a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to essentially play World of Warcraft in the name of research.

Apparently it’s so important to study how Americans play World of Warcraft that all this money has exchanged hands. Nardi wants to know why American players go to greater lengths to mod the game than Chinese ones. This is valuable.

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…

Um … yeah. Okay, that’s worth an obscene amount of grand money, I suppose. Maybe I should present my theory to the NSF that a man who owns $500,000,000 will be a happy man. I’d need the money itself to put this theory into the practice, and of course an extra $100,000 grant money so I can do the research on myself. Whaddya say, science folks!?

Jim Sterling