Scientists, We Need Your Swords! writes John Bohannon and calls for a “Conference” in World of Warcraft on May 9-11, called “Convergence of the Real and the Virtual“. Organized is this event by a William Sims Bainbridge. And this here cow isn’t quite as overjoyed as someone might assume, even though we’re Horde, we’re academics, and we’re on Earthen Ring (US) where this event will take place.
First, dear John, I will be a massive killjoy and explain something massively basic to you – any “scientific excursion” should be led by someone with, at least, a basic understanding of the terrain he or she excurses into. You exhibit all the signs of someone who is – at best – innocently unfamiliar, at worst, unscientifically indifferent to the world you pertain to be taking this excursion into.
How do I know? Well, for starters, let’s look at your … gasp … Level 20 Hunter “Gonzorina”. You see, Earthen Ring is a so-called RP server, a place people converge to Roleplay. Your excursion, the setup, its premise, its participants, even your character’s name are essentially contrary to the RP element of the server and, in the case of your guild and character name, violate Blizzard’s RP policy. I am sure HST takes a massive left spin in his grave over your naming yourself a “Gonzo” something, but unlike him Blizzard can act. In fact, me being a massive Killjoy Cow, I’ll make sure to log on and report your name and guild name as well as names like “Mynameisman” right then, and there, for said violations. Or Mr. Bainbridge’s character names, Sciencemag, Computabull, and Price. I bow before your understanding of RP and WoW-RP in particular. I am massively interested to hear all I can about this “convergence” of your “Computabull” Level 30 Elemental-specced Tauren Shaman. Or your Level 20 Hunter, another fine example of your understanding of the environment and theorycraft behind it.
Let’s be clear on this… I am no rabid RPer. I usually don’t get my virtual panties into painful wads over naming convention breaches. But I do, call it a weakness, get annoyed at “scientific” excursions exhibiting massive, even dangerous, flaws like yours. This alone could – and should – call your understanding of the Virtual Ecosystem you claim to be familiar enough to lead through, into question, but it gets better.
One of my absolute favorites in your sessions is the “Anti-capitalist, pro-environmental values in the picture of a priest fighting a deforestation machine.” The priest shown is a Blood Elf, who – according to lore – couldn’t give less of a flying gnome about “anti-capitalism” or “pro-environmentalism”. Oh, you don’t care about lore? Get your pixelated behinds off that RP server, pronto.
Another one is almost as funny – your “undisclosed Alliance location” which you will attack (iow, grief) after the “sessions” are concluded. I just hope you have a good RP backgrounder for this one, because it’ll be hell to explain why a bunch of Level 5s got two-shot by the spawned guards in Sentinel Hill (yes, it’s kind of dumb to discuss the “undisclosed” location on the same page…). Crushing blows are teh suxz0rz.
In short, this “conference” is ill-conceived. Not something I’d have expected from someone with a nsf.gov email address, and definitely not something that will yield any true scientific results. “It appears,” to quote a guildmate of mine, “to be a boneheaded attempt at starting a guild.” Is it? I don’t know, but Mr. Bainbridge and Mr. Bohannon don’t particularly exhibit an understanding of the very Virtual Ecosystem they’re taking their conference into.
 Level 20 can be, easily, reached within 5 hours /played. Anyone claiming to know anything about any ecosysstem after spending five hours in it (and having been exposed to less than ten percent of its extent) needs a serious scientific attitude re-adjustment.