Self-intoduction: an ecological approach to games.

I am a researcher in behavioral ecology. When I am not absorbed in stereotypes like hugging trees or going into endless composting sessions, I do research and sometimes help teaching science courses. I am passionate about biodiversity (the variation you can see every aspect of life) of behavior and personality among people, animals, or avatars within a given group, population or game. This biodiversity is what enables groups to tackle challenges and being resilient to change.

Ecology - where and when food is available, the density of individuals, their interaction patterns in space and over time - is one of the biggest driver of the biodiversity I am studying. Depending on the ecology of a species, or a group of animals, you can even predict the importance of this biodiversity in behavior. And I think humans are no different.

I started playing video games online a few years ago. I am amazed, even now, by the depth and breadth of many virtual worlds in which multi-player online games take place. EVE online is currently my favorite. This type of virtual world is also interesting to me as an ecologist, because the ecology of such worlds probably drives the biodiversity of avatars you will find. Games are also models of ideas and concepts. I came to think that they are probably the best form a concept may take.

Through a game, people will interact and explore a concept, grow an intuition of it. I read about Will Wright's description of video games, that it enabled people to wrap their head around toy models of reality, get past it and reverse engineer it, to finally get through it and pin point exactly why this is wrong, why this is not reality but a simple toy model of it. And science is about doing just that. Everybody should be able to do science in that way. One of my goals is to develop teaching environments creating, developing, maintaining our differences in personality, work methods, behavior. I am sure that the ultimate tool to achieve that is to use massively multi-player online games and their virtual worlds.

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