"Thanks to a partnership with Sony, a team of academic researchers have obtained the largest set of data on social interactions they've ever gotten their hands on: the complete server logs of Everquest 2, which track every action performed in the game."
"Researchers ranging from psychologists to epidemiologists have wondered for some time whether online, multiplayer games might provide some ways to test concepts that are otherwise difficult to track in the real world. A Saturday morning session at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science described what might be the most likely way of finding out. With the cooperation of Sony, a collaborative group of academic researchers at a number of institutions have obtained the complete server logs from the company's Everquest 2 MMORPG.
As the researchers who are dealing with this new resource describe it, it's one of those "be careful what you wish for" situationsówith nearly 60TB of data, the standard procedures for tackling social data sets just aren't up to the job.
Dmitri Williams introduced the project and described how researchers have been approaching various game developers over the years. He paraphrased the conversation with Sony as:
"What do you collect?"
"Well, everythingówhat do you want?"
"Can we have it all?"
The end result is a log that includes four years of data for over 400,000 players that took part in the game, which was followed up with demographic surveys of the users. All told, it makes for a massive data set with distinct challenges but plenty of opportunities. "
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Science gleans 60TB of behavior data from Everquest 2 logs - Ars Technica