Video game provides new way to study human behavior

A University professor collaborated to use Everquest 2 for research.

A University of Minnesota computer scientist and several researchers across the country are using the online video game Everquest 2 to study the social sciences of real life communities. Their research shows that the interactive gaming communities are now so massive that they can be used to mirror traditional communities. University computer science and engineering professor Jaideep Srivastava and three of his colleagues from Northwestern University , the University of Illinois and the University of Southern California are able to study human behavior using the game. The research team analyzed three years of data from server logs and click-streams of SonyâÄôs PC game to track every action performed in one of the worldâÄôs most massively popular multiplayer online games. More than 300,000 players play Everquest 2 and they average 26 hours of weekly game play. The game has an intense level of involvement and a multi-player environment that allowed the researchers to use the game as a proxy to study human behavioral dynamics. The researchers recently presented their symposium âÄúAnalyzing Virtual Worlds: Next Step in the Evolution of Social Science ResearchâÄù at this yearâÄôs annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science . The project was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Army with cooperation from Sony.