chapter  14
22 Pages

Synthetic Worlds as Experimental Instruments

WithEdward Castronova, Mark W. Bell, Robert Cornell, James J. Cummings, Matthew Falk, Travis Ross, Sarah B. Robbins-Bell, Alida Field

The reasoning is simple: a virtual world can be used to replicate research. It is like a Petri dish. It can be made the same way by anybody. If I build a virtual world and run it on a computer, then send you the code and the machine, you can run the same world. You may have different people in yours, but (a) it is easy to determine whether that matters, and (b) there are methods for reducing differences. It is easy to measure differences across people in things that matter-sex, race, family origin, even culture and politics. And since these things can be measured, it is easy to prescreen participants and make sure that you have the same mix in your experiment as I had in mine.