Starting today is a unique event running May 9-11 – Convergence of the Real and Virtual is the first scientific conference taking place in the MMORPG or World of Warcraft.
Lest you think this is not serious, check out the Science article of April 18 by Gonzo Scientist John Bohannon titled Scientists, We Need Your Swords!
This will not be your typical conference. Sure, there will be sessions devoted to various research topics involving virtual worlds, panel discussions, social activities, and those conference goody bags that we’ve all come to love. But to attend this conference, you don’t have to splurge on grant money or add to global warming by flying to another country. And in the goody bags, you won’t find brochures, pens, or those quickly lost notebooks.
Instead, each conference participant will receive (while supplies last) 10 gold pieces, a red “Sciencemag” shirt, a colorful conference tabard emblazoned with an infinity symbol, two extra bags for swag, a telescope, and a pet creature. Between sessions, there will be group field trips across landscapes inhabited by dangerous beasts–some earthly and extinct, others fanciful–an introduction to the world’s auction-based economy, and finally a massive joint assault on an enemy city. (Beat that, Gordon conferences!) Anyone with an Internet connection can take part, from anywhere in the world. All you have to do is install the game, create a character, and join the guild called “Science” on the Earthen Ring US server.
If there are an WoW educators out there, we’d love to hear some dispatches from this event.