Telecommunications | Synthetic Worlds
T540 | 18713 | Castronova, E.


Instructor: Edward Castronova

This graduate seminar introduces students to synthetic worlds:
persistent online 3D spaces that can hold thousands of people at a

We will examine game worlds such as /EverQuest/ and /World of
Warcraft/, as well as collaboration spaces like /Second Life/. The
focus will be on the real human sociality that is emergent in these
spaces: the power structures, groups, markets, norms, and cultures
that are simultaneously completely ordinary (since they stem from
the interactions of real humans) and yet bizarre (since they involve
strange objects like dragons and spaceships).

There are no prerequisites for the course. Students will be expected
to spend significant time within fairly sophisticated synthetic
worlds. This will require access to a fairly sophisticated personal
computer, as well as software purchases and subscription fees.
Readings for the course will be largely online and therefore free.

Grading will be based on the completion of research papers on topics
of the student's choice. There will be an opportunity to work on the
production of an actual synthetic world in lieu of research. The
world being built is called /Arden: The World of William
Shakespeare/. Because of its subject matter, /Arden/ will have room
for contributions from students in a wide variety of disciplines:
the humanities, arts, music, history, social sciences, design
sciences, computer sciences, and business.