Teaching Economics in World of Warcraft

Teaching Economics in World of Warcraft

András Margitay-Becht (St. Mary's College of California, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9837-6.ch006


This chapter is a go-to guide for education professionals (primarily in the undergraduate and graduate college-level degree programs) for understanding and designing Economics classes in World of Warcraft. The premier MMORPG of the Western world, World of Warcraft boasts a number of features that makes it an ideal sandbox for economic education. It was deliberately designed to represent a large number of important real-world institutions like trade, production, cooperation, thus it can become a platform for learning about them. Moreover, since students encounter these institutions in a vibrant virtual world setting, they not only get to verify the learned materials but can practice their applications in their day-to-day dealings with other World of Warcraft denizens. This will lead to more student engagement, better learning outcomes, a more thorough understanding of both the principles of the theory and their applications, and greatly improved knowledge retention.
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Education In Virtual Worlds

Using real-world examples in an undergraduate college program frequently is pointless, as the students are usually inexperienced in the real world. It is not helpful for them to explain that understanding the elasticity of the demand curve will help them formulate the long-term pricing strategy of aluminum, as they have never faced the problem of being responsible for the long-term pricing strategy of aluminum. Social sciences attempt to explain and simplify the complex reality – but these simplifying models themselves are hard to understand without a point of reference. In graduate programs we can assume a working understanding of certain social institutions, and can base our lectures on that; but in the undergraduate setting this is not always realistic. The construction of virtual worlds can bridge this knowledge gap: using the familiar virtual setting, the teacher can introduce both the real-world problem, and the social science model designed to help deal with the problem.

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