All those hours — days, really — that UC Irvine anthropologist and informatics specialist Bonnie Nardi has spent exploring the different ways that Americans and the Chinese use and play the computer game “World of Warcraft” has provided fodder for an upcoming book.
Nardi, a hardcore WoW fan, says she’s writing a book titled, “My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological account of World of Warcraft.” The boo, “explores ideas about play, and how digital technology shapes play. It will be awhile before it’s out — I hae one more major round of revisions,” she says.
Last year, the National Science Foundation awarded Nardi $100,000 to study why Americans go to greater lengths than the Chinese to modify WoW, the multi-player game produced by Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine. (Read story). The story set off quite a debate about the cultural differences of game playing.
Nardi has spent a lot of time at Internet cafes and other spots in Beijing and other parts of China studying how the Chinese play WoW, which have more than 5 million players worldwide. She is a widely published author, having written or co-written such books as, “Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart.”
She’s also published research on WoW. In one study, says a campus release, (Nardi and co-author Justin Harris, a former graduate student in informatics, published a study called “Strangers and Friends: Collaborative Play in World of Warcraft” challenging the notion that the Internet leads to isolation. Through face-to-face interviews with players, they found the Internet breaks down barriers between strangers and encourages collaboration with those outside one’s usual economic and social realm.
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