WoW Insider recently spotlighted Alex Golub, PhD., an anthropology professor at the University of Hawaii, in their "15 Minutes of Fame" column. Alex moonlights as a restoration shaman for a 4 year-old raiding guild. He is currently performing an anthropological study on Warcraft raiding culture and Ventrilo interaction for a book he hopes to publish on WoW.
Alex Golub is, without a doubt, made of awesome.
Read the interview on WoW Insider. Even if you don't have a BA in sociology (like your's truly) or a perverse infatuation with social interaction and personal perception, just reading what Dr. Golub says in response to some of WI's innocuous questions makes you sit back and think "huh, I never thought of it that way." Being a career anthropologist and having done research through participant observation, he has a knack for putting run-of-the-mill WoW events and interaction in plain English terminology so that everyone knows what he's talking about, not just WoW players.
I, for one, can't wait to read his book. Which shouldn't come as a surprise, since I'm the same person who got giddy about an article about scientific summits in-game and who's read a zany book entitled Digital Play, Culture, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader. Yes, I really am that nerdy.
My favorite snippits of the interview follow -
In response to WI's question about his research impeding his ability to immerse himself in the guild/raid:
In response to WI's question about the relative ease of WotLK raids:
Being an anthropologist is great, though, because eventually you are going to want to interview everyone, which means you can't make enemies in the guild. We have a Boomkin in our guild who is notorious for pulling aggro, but in raid I can't be like "IF YOU PULL THE MOBS OFF THE TANK ONE MORE TIME I AM NOT GOING TO HEAL YOU ANY MORE YOU PIECE OF S@#$" and then afterwards be all "Oh hey, can I interview for my research afterwards?" They'll just mute you.
We cleared at T5 and T6 content before Wrath, and we were a little disappointed with how easy Heroic Naxx was -- at least until we got to Patchwerk and he carved the words "gear check" into the still-twitching torso of our main tank.