Grants for Gaming Make Government Waste List

December 21, 2010 -

A list called "Government Waste: 20 Of The Craziest Things That The U.S. Government Is Spending Money On" finds several projects funded by the government related to video games. Of course lists that are considered "waste" by some groups actually have a deeper purpose than what is listed in the descriptions, but the people that put this particular list together (I hope) would know that.

At #17 on their list is a $600,000 grant given to the Minnesota Zoo by the National Science Foundation to develop an online video game called "Wolfquest". Located at WolfQuest.org, the project is actually a single-player game that is broken into two episode and a multiplayer component. In the first episode of the game players "explore the wilderness, hunt elk, and encounter stranger wolves in a quest to find a mate." In the second episode players "find a den, establish a territory, raise pups and defend them from predators such as coyotes and grizzly bears." The multiplayer component lets up to five players form a wolf pack. The point of the game is to teach players about learn about wolf ecology.

The second video-game related items land at #17. A professor at Dartmouth University received a grant for $137,530 to create a "recession-themed" video game entitled "Layoff". Located at www.tiltfactor.org , the game is not a new project by any stretch of the imagination. According to the site, "LAYOFF uses a simple casual game paradigm to comment on the current state of the US financial crisis. Both friends and strangers face tough times in an unstable economy. Part dark humor, mostly grim portent, in the game players play from the side of management needing to cut jobs, and match types of workers in groups in order to lay the workers off and increase workforce efficiency."

At #14 we find $5,000 dollars given to an unnamed Tennessee library to host a series of video game parties. We assume these are somehow related to the Wii.. Libraries love the Wii.

So what was the most outrageous distribution of federal grant money, according to the list? At #1 on this list is a study of World of Warcraft and Second Life. Around $3 million was given to researchers at the University of California at Irvine to play and study online games such as World of Warcraft. The goal is to study how "emerging forms of communication, including multiplayer computer games and online virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft and Second Life can help organizations collaborate and compete more effectively in the global marketplace."

A multitude of these entries come from Wastebook, a publication of wasteful spending put together by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). While well intentioned, these reports do not tend to do any research beyond some cursory reading of the lead description for each study they unearth. Usually there is a deeper level of research going on. To be fair, some of the entries on the list are a real waste of taxpayer funds.

Read the list with commentary here.


Comments

Re: Grants for Gaming Make Government Waste List

 add mandatory healthcare, and the repealing of DADT to that list.

Re: Grants for Gaming Make Government Waste List

Me, I'd say Tom Coburn's salary is a pretty big waste of tax dollars.

I remember back when she was running for veep Sarah Palin blathered about how the US government was wasting money on fruit fly research -- which in point of fact has been integral to genome research, but of course she's not really the pro-science type.

I don't think Second Life and WoW are bad places for research at all.  We've already learned some fascinating things about economics from gold farming.

Re: Grants for Gaming Make Government Waste List

You honestly expect people to agree that, with the government being in as much debt as it is, with few signs of the current administration willing to do anything about it, that spending taxpayer dollars on gaming - outside of tax breaks for game developers - is anything but a waste of money?

Studying WoW communication?  Give me a fucking break.

---

With the first link, the chain is forged.

--- With the first link, the chain is forged.

Re: Grants for Gaming Make Government Waste List

WoW also had a pretty nasty plague outbreak that was studied by the CDC

 
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Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - I disagree with your 9:12 and 9:16 comment. There are myriad ways to address content you don't like. And they're far easier to execute in the online space.07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Banning in the legal sense? Not that I'm aware but there have certainly been groups of gamers who have worked towards getting content they don't like removed.07/28/2015 - 11:45pm
DanJAlexander's editorial was and continues to be grossly misrepresented by her opponents. And if you don't like a site, you stop reading it - same as not watching a tv show. They get your first click, but not your second.07/28/2015 - 11:40pm
TechnogeekYes, because actively trying to convince advertisers to influence the editorial content of media is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, especially for a movement that's ostensibly about journalistic ethics.07/28/2015 - 11:02pm
Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
MattsworknameIn tv, and radio, ratings are how it works. your ratings determine how well you do and how much money you an charge.07/28/2015 - 9:02pm
Mattsworknameexpect to do so without someone wanting to hold you to task for it07/28/2015 - 9:00pm
MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew, Im asking as a practical question, Have gamers, as a group, ever asked for a game, or other item, to be banned. Im trying to see if theres any cases anyone else remembers cause I cant find or remember any.07/28/2015 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
MattsworknameDitto kotaku, Gawker, VOX, Polygon, ETC07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MechaTama31So, between pulling a game from one chain of stores, and forcing editorial changes to a media source, only one of them strikes you as being on the edge of censorship, and it's the game one?07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
Andrew EisenHave gamers ever tried to ban a product? Can you be more specific? I'm not clear what you're getting at.07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
Mattsworknamethey should have expected some kind of blow back. But I didn't participate in that specific action07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MattsworknameAndrew Youd have to ask others about that, I actualyl didn't have much beef with them till last year, so I can't speak to there history. I simply feel that gamesutra chose politics over gaming and chose to make enimies of it's prime audiance. For that,07/28/2015 - 8:40pm
Andrew EisenI'm still not clear on how Gamasutra was lacking in accountability or what it was lacking in accountability for.07/28/2015 - 8:38pm
MattsworknameAndrew: You and I agree on most of that. I don't diagree that there should ahve been other actions taken. Now, I do want to point something out, casue Im not sure if it's happened. Have gamers ever tried to have a product banned?07/28/2015 - 8:37pm
 

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