July 6, 2007
Virtual Worlds as Social-Science Labs
How one professor uses online games as petri dishes of human behavior
Edward Castronova has been a wizard, a clergyman, and lately, a monster-slaying blonde, all inside virtual worlds. Scholars may consider time spent immersed in digital fantasy worlds to be frivolous — but it has sent Mr. Castronova's academic career soaring.
Back in 2001, when he was plodding away as a tenure-track professor of economics at California State University at Fullerton, he decided to try