c|net has an article, “A Midsummer Night’s Virtual World“.Â In it they interview Edward Castronova, who has just been announced as a $240,000 grant recipient from the MacArthur Foundation for a game he is developing, called Arden: The World of Shakespeare.
Castronova is a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University, but he’s also an expert on the economies of virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online game.
The game appears to be a social science experiment using the world of Shakespeare and his plays as the context, but Castronova seems to understand that the world has to be compelling if he wants to keep people playing so he can perform his studies.
c|net asks him what he thinks Arden will offer that isn’t possible in other virtual worlds.Â Castronova responds:
At universities, we don’t have a track record of game design, but we sure as hell have a track record in economic design and political design, social design and the practice of designing human institutions. So players of our world should look for a great deal more sophistication in terms of what the economy is, what the government is and what the military situation is like.
Compared to the economics of Second Life, I wonder if what Castronova says is true.Â Political design will be interesting to see, though.Â
MacArthur is funding the project for a year.Â Hopefully that means something will be out there for us to see before too long.Â I can think of one person who would be very interested in visiting an online world modeled on Shakespeare and his works.