Edward Castronova’s Arden: The World of Shakespeare was supposed to be a revolutionary academic experiment, a massive multiplayer online world where players learned about Shakespeare while Castronova tested economic theories on them. There’s just one problem, Technology Review reports: “It’s no fun,” says Castronova. Focused on research, developers produced a dull game.
Castronova’s abandoning the game, releasing it as-is, devoid of monsters or puzzles—but not the idea of academic MMOs. He’s already working on Arden II: London Burning, firmly believing that such virtual worlds can be social science petri dishes. Others doubt his methods. “It's very, very hard to make games in the best of circumstances,” said one game researcher, “and a university is never the best of circumstances.”