How gold farming ruined research…

the singer/he had long hair/and the drummer/he knew restraint…
-Pavement

Okay, my friend Jeff says I owe five posts today (curses, flu! my stomach needs to come back to me so I can do my work!), so I’m going to try a few shorter ones. I’m working on a side-paper about gaming research as an addendum to my ethics of researching online article.  I learned something new this weekend.

On message boards, World of Warcraft gold farmers have ruined the concept of research. They’ve impersonated researchers so often that my attempt to do research was outright snapped at. In a few cases in violent ways. It was… sort of sad.

Not that I don’t have thick enough skin. I’ve taken more than one insult to the side of the head in my life.

It was sad because it illustrated the first discussion I ever had with anyone about researching gaming is STILL of critical importance. IRBs need to understand that to solicit a community you have to speak like/look like the community. I AM a gamer. I can talk like a gamer and post like a gamer and walk like a gamer. But the rigid language the IRB demands to see and stamp for approval (which I agree we need, legally, for consent forms) makes any attempts to solicit look weird.

There’s no way around it, unless we can teach IRBs to understand that we have to solicit a certain way to get real results. My post looked like (to quote someone) “some tool-ass gold farmer trying to get market research.” It was, in actuality, very “form letterish” and exactly what an IRB wants.

So let’s start a revolution, folks. If you research gaming, write your solicitation in gamer language and tell your friendly neighborhood IRB you don’t want to look like “Some tool-ass gold farmer.” I’ll be right there with you, pwning noobs.

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