After reading Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s paper on Why Virtual Worlds Matter a number of questions came to mind. I still can’t help but be critical as I struggle to approach the topic of virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games, putting aside my own bias as a non-gamer.

If these games are teaching social behaviors and how to organize socially to solve problems, where is evidence of this in the real world? Have any studies shown that highly collaborative games lead to collaborative individuals who organize socially outside of the game and instances relating to the game? Can they function in a world where there is no discussion of the game? Are these gamers highly evolved social beings in the real world? If so when did this happen and where was I?

With these games allowing such social engagement, what makes them different than social networking sites in terms for learned social behavior? Are the bonds developed in virtual worlds stronger than those of social networks and why?

Does the type of learning taking place within these worlds differ substantially from learning that occurs with the constructs of real-world games? Don’t children learn through experience during undirected play in the same way those emerged in virtual worlds do?

What is it about the World of Warcraft environment that makes interaction so unique compared with other team-based games? Isn’t collaboration the same in all games requiring group strategy and planning?