In a remarkable turn of events in the facts of life, it turns out there are gaming researchers, like at Universities or some junk. One such researcher, Jonas Linderoth of the University of Gothenburg, has been following a group of World of Warcraft role-players for 10 months in the hope of studying the effects of online role-playing in someone’s life. One of the observations of the study, he claims, is that role-playing can potentially increase learning skills. The argument being that if one totally immerses themselves in a new environment then they should be more open to new experiences and absorb information quicker. One important point that Linderoth made was that these are not “ordinary” gamers, they are role-players. They are folks who want to be completely inside the fiction.
One commonly held belief is that role-playing is so appealing to these folks that they will want to continue to escape reality for large swaths of time, waiting as a long as possible to come back to “reality”. However, it would appear that reality is rather cold-hearted and just keeps creeping in to the fantasy. People have to actively hold a suspension of disbelief in order in order to keep their minds in-game. This is especially true when you consider that players can talk to each other while being on two different continents, enemies will magically appear right in front of them, and… well, there are motorcycles. He says his study contradicts the common view that the fictional element in online role-play can be too strong to resist, but rather it requires a certain set of skills that not everyone has.
So… thanks I guess? I, personally, have never gotten in role-playing via Warcraft. I’ve found that “serious role-playing areas” are either populated by people who take it way too seriously, or people making fun of the people who are taking it way too seriously. This particular study would seem to suggest that having an active imagination is a key learning tool, something that inherently has nothing to do with WoW or even online role-playing. And to that assertion, I guess they deserve a “stupid scientific study of the day” award? Having said that, I do think that there is some seriously information to be gain from studies based in virtual environments, Corrupt Blood plague incident is one great example.
Source: Science 2.0