This book explores the remarkable sociocultural convergencein multiplayer online games and other virtual worlds, through the unificationof computer science, social science, and the humanities. The emergence of online media provides notonly new methods for collecting social science data, but also contexts fordeveloping theory and conducting education in the arts as well astechnology. Notably, role-playing gamesand virtual worlds naturally demonstrate many classical concepts about human behaviour,in ways that encourage innovative thinking. The inspiration derives from the internationally shared values developedin a fifteen-year series of conferences on science and technology convergence.The primary methodology is focused on sending avatars, representingclassical social theorists or schools of thought, into online gameworlds thatharmonize with, or challenge, their fundamental ideas, including technologicaldeterminism, urban sociology, group formation, freedom versus control, classstratification, linguistic variation, functional equivalence across cultures, behaviouralpsychology, civilization collapse, and ethnic pluralism.
Researchers and students in the social and behaviouralsciences will benefit from the many diverse examples of how both qualitativeand quantitative science of culture and society can be performed in onlinecommunities of many kinds, even as artists and gamers learn styles and skillsthey may apply in their own work and play.