Social scientists study Minecraft and One Hour One Life communities


You might think scientists would balk at the idea of using online gaming communities as a test bed for study, given those communities’… strong personalities. However, some social scientists from the CogSci 2020 Workshop website have used the sandboxes One Hour One Life and Minecraft to offer some study results about social interaction.

In the first study, Harvard University postdoctoral fellow Natalia Vélez discusses how the division of labor leads to generational success as well as innovations and advancements, using One Hour’s high-speed life cycle as a means of gathering data. Studies are apparently ongoing, but initial findings show that small portions of the community contribute the bulk of technological innovations, while communities with the most extreme divisions of labor — where the fewest players contributed the most innovations — were also more successful in raising children to adulthood.

The second study comes from cognitive scientist and Harvard postdoc Charley Wu, who examines the trade-offs between individual and social learning through the vehicle of Minecraft. He takes a look at how individuals and groups react to their environment and their limited field of view, and whether working as a collective or achieving individual innovation helps.

The meat of each study was shared in video form, which are just after the break.

source: Cognition, Collectives, and Culture (1, 2)
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