Edward Castronova, Associate Professor of Telecommunications at Indiana University and noted for his research into the economies of MMO titles, has announced the formation of The Arden Institute.
The Institute is a research center at Indiana University whose aim is to promote innovative research on synthetic worlds, the most prominent of which are MMOs such as World Of WarCraft
or virtual words such as Second Life
. It intends to support research activities and hosts an annual conference, the Ludium, and the Institute's output will be published exclusively on its official website
The first findings of the Institute, which is not yet formally funded as a separate entity, are a written report and filmed documentary
on the first Ludium, which was held at Indiana University, Bloomington, from September 29 to October 1. As part of the Ludium, a selected group of academics and game designers were formed into five teams to play a competitive game of concept generation.
According to the website, the long-run ambition of the Institute is to develop a massively-multi-user game world at a university, and deploy it for basic social science research. Castronova suggests: "The research opportunity derives from the fact that synthetic worlds are genuine human societies operating under circumstances that researchers can tightly control. Humanity has never before had the opportunity to conduct macro-level social science experiments; numerous grand-theoretic disasters (communism, for example) might readily have been avoided if their precepts had been subjected to experimental test."