Dr. Nick YeeThe Economist article Viral and Virtual said
Readers of The Economist may not necessarily be familiar with the “World of Warcraft”. For those who are not, it is a cod-medieval online game in which goblins and trolls, warriors and wizards, and so on act out the fantasies of some 9m players who spend the rest of their lives in the alternative world of paper and pay-packets.
A couple of years ago the game’s owners, a Californian firm called Blizzard Entertainment, accidentally spiced things up by releasing a plague far more virulent than they had intended. It started in a sparsely inhabited area but soon found its way to the cities, where it wreaked havoc.
Jeremy Bailenson and Nick Yee, of Stanford University, have spent years studying online behaviour in other contexts. They say it mimics the real world with “stunning” accuracy. They caution, though, that there are important differences between virtual plagues and real ones.
The obvious difference is that only real plagues kill real people, though the permanent loss of a character can be a traumatic experience for an enthusiastic player, and one he will try hard to avoid. The other difference is that game-death is rarely permanent. Usually, resurrection is an available option something that medical science in the real world cannot yet offer.
Nick Yee, Ph.D. is
Research Assistant, Department of Communication, Stanford University,
Business Analyst, Sony Online Entertainment, and
Research Assistant, Palo Alto Research Center.
He specializes in research in online games and immersive
The Daedalus Project, his research into the psychology and sociology of MMORPGs, has collected survey data from over 40,000 game players. The research that has resulted from these interviews has been cited extensively by game scholars, game developers, and popular media. His research has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and CNN International, among other media outlets.
Nick authored MRSA Abscess and Septra Reaction, The Demographics, Motivations and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively-Multiuser Online Graphical Environments, The Labor of Fun: How Video Games Blur the Boundaries of Work and Play, and Motivations of Play in Online Games, and coauthored The Proteus Effect: The Effect of Transformed Self-Representation on Behavior, Digital Chameleons: Automatic assimilation of nonverbal gestures in immersive virtual environments, and Walk A Mile in Digital Shoes: The Impact of Embodied Perspective-Taking on The Reduction of Negative Stereotyping in Immersive Virtual Environments. Read his full list of publications!
Nick earned a B.A. Psychology (Honors) with a concentration in Computer Science from Haverford College in 2001 and a Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University in 2007.
Read Mind Hacks: Five minutes with Nick Yee.