Ponca City, We Love You writes "Academics have been flocking to use virtual worlds and multiplayer games as ways to research everything from economics to epidemiology and turn these environments into educational tools. A game called Arden, the World of Shakespeare, funded with a $250,000 MacArthur Foundation grant and developed at Indiana University was supposed to test economic theories by manipulating the rules of the game. There's only one problem. "It's no fun, " says Edward Castronova, Arden's creator and an associate professor of telecommunications at the university. "You need puzzles and monsters," he says, "or people won't want to play
... Since what I really need is a world with lots of players in it for me to run experiments on, I decided I needed a completely different approach." Part of the problem is it costs a lot to build a new multiplayer game. While his grant was large for the field of humanities, it was a drop in the bucket compared with the roughly $75 million that goes into developing something on the scale of World of Warcraft. Castronova is releasing Arden to the public as is and says his experience should serve as a warning for other academics. "What we've really learned is, you've got to start with a game first," Castronova says. "You just have to." The new version is titled Arden II: London Burning."