I think we are seeing it [happen] already. We are starting to see the emergence of a 'networked imagination'. There are millions of people who now spend extensive amounts of time together, negotiating and completing very difficult tasks and who are in direct communication for several hours a day, but who have never met face to face. They have a set of very deep and very real shared experiences, which define for them a close relationship.
In some cases guild members may have been playing together for five or ten years, often every day, and have no contact with each other except for the game and the connections around it.
That seems to me to be a new form of sociality which is both significant and likely to change some of how we think about friendship, social interaction, and connections between people.
Those kinds of relationships are different from our more traditional face to face relationship and are not designed to replace them. They do point to the possibility of forming significant and meaningful social relationships in an age of globalization where face to face interaction may be difficult, costly, or even impossible.
What do you think is most significant about your research, and what are your plans for further studies?
I think our educational system is currently training people for the jobs of the 20th century. The next generation needs to be a generation of innovative thinkers who understand the importance of imagination and who are able to deploy knowledge in interesting ways.
We continue to look at the ways in which MMOs can tell us something about learning practices. There is no shortage of creativity, innovation, and fun happening with kids today. The trick is to figure out what practices kids are adopting and harness them to reshape our educational institutions to embrace them.
Games and MMOs are not the only tools we have for learning, nor are they always the best or most appropriate ones, but there are some things they do better than anything else. Our goal should be one of matching the right tools to the right job and if we can succeed at that, the payoffs will be tremendous.