woww.jpg We obviously haven't been paying attention, but apparently the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center has a weblog, PlayOn, which is dedicated to 'exploring the social dimensions of virtual worlds'.

Why is this interesting? Well, as Wikipedia explains, "Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was a flagship research division of the Xerox Corporation, based in Palo Alto, California, USA. It was founded in 1970, and spun out as a separate company (still wholly owned by Xerox) in 2002. It is best known for essentially creating the modern personal computer graphical user interface (GUI) paradigm." So, a high-end place to be taking an interest in MMOs.

One of the PlayOn researchers is Stanford grad student Nick Yee, whose Daedalus Project MMO survey is well-known for useful statistical info on how people play in online worlds, and the most recent research at PlayOn deals with how well-connected players are in World Of Warcraft, according to a self-constructed ranking system, noting: "Across all of our metrics, male characters were better connected than female characters. And this was true for all classes, with the only exception of Priests." Of course, this is male characters, not necessarily males.

In fact, in the post's comments, 'Chris' has an interesting possible explanation for these stats that brings this gender confusion to the fore: "Maybe, by the time most male players reach 60, they have a built in prejudice against female characters- they may percieve that many of the female characters they encountered earlier in the game "lied" by choosing a character gender different than their own, and are therefore less trustworthy." [Via Terra Nova.]