Massively multiplayer online games a testbed for entrepreneurial skills

Via the ACM technews review:

"The Avatars of Research" in Chronicle of Higher Education (09/30/05) Vol. 52, No. 6, P. A35; Foster, Andrea L.

Massively multiplayer online games such as Second Life have aroused the interest of scholars as a testbed for entrepreneurial skills as well as a tool for studying social interaction. Second Life is especially attractive to researchers since almost any kind of activity can be performed in the game, and the relationships and interchange between avatars representing players reflect the real-life behavior of individuals and groups. Business professors are particularly drawn to Second Life because participants create, sell, and purchase possessions and holdings within the virtual world, which are bought with an artificial currency that can be exchanged for actual legal tender. The potential abuse of such a system is an area of research for Elon University senior Jon Maggio, who intends to examine the sociological aspects of virtual worlds for his graduate studies. Architecture students at UC Berkeley and the University of Texas at Austin have used Second Life to evaluate the habitability of building designs, while Trinity University students taught by communication professor Aaron Delwiche used object creation tools in Second Life to develop games that could enable new players to become conversant with the software. The game's creator, Linden Lab, started allowing academic participants to inhabit the Second Life universe without any subscriber fees this month. Linden Lab's Robin Harper says the company is benefiting from the advice students and scholars provide on how the game world can be improved.

Why do I blog this? in the effort of using multiplayer game in education, this reminds me old uses of MUDS/MOOs for learning purposes 10 years ago. The difference here would be that the interface is graphical + a large number of users.