Allaire tells us the study was funded by North Carolina State in late 2008/early 2009. The WoW
study started in the spring of 2009, and completed its data collection in August 2009. The NSF funding, which is what Majority Leader Cantor is criticizing, started in September 2009; a month after the WoW
study was completed.
Additionally, the WoW
study only cost $5,000 -- not the $1,200,000 cited by the Majority Leader. Allaire tells us the WoW
study was used as pilot research for the NSF grant. Dr. Elisabeth Whyte, PhD. Lecturer and Post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University (and WoW
player herself) explains what a pilot study is, and how it impacts future research:
Pilot research is small-scale studies proving "proof of concept". This is often done with smaller, limited funds - often costing between $0 and $60,000 to conduct... For example, while a full-scale research study may have between 40 and 10,000 people participate, a pilot study may have between 5 and 20 people participate. If the results are interesting in the small pilot study, then the grant agencies know that they are placing their money and resources into something that will likely generate important and usable data in larger studies.
study only had 39 participants and was done with $5,000 in non-federal funds from North Carolina State University, and not from the NSF. Additionally, the NSF funds are in no way being used to study World of Warcraft
The NSF funds that the Majority Leader is citing are being used as part of a three phase project, according to Allaire, and are spread out over four years. "...we used BoomBlox and BoomBlox Bash Party where we assign people to groups where the play with someone else (social impact) or alone and in a low or high attentional demand condition," Allaire says. He goes on to say that "We are currently using the results of the study to create a game that can specifically impact cognition," and that they will be testing the efficacy of this new game this spring.
Allaire further says on the NSF study scope:
The NSF study is a HUGE study. The first phase had almost 200 participants that did pretest, 2-3 post-tests, and up to 15 days of repeated training. We had a pretty big staff of testers... It also funds 2 - 3 grad students. The other phases also support grad students and will require a lot more testing and training.
We've reached out to Eric Cantor's office for comment and will update this article if we receive a reply.
Update 11:50am, Feb. 22, 2013:
Eric Cantor's spokesman Rory Cooper has responded via our colleagues at the Huffington Post
concerning this issue:
The President of the United States said he was going to have turn criminals loose on the street. He has created a false choice between raising taxes or near-apocalyptic conditions. In reality, we need to make choices on how we spend taxpayer's hard earned dollars. While some of these programs may even have some merit to some people, should they be saved before preventing the drastic scenario the President painted yesterday?