House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R - Virginia) is causing a bit of a stir in gaming circles for citing a study by North Carolina State University involving World of Warcraft as an example of wasteful government spending. The study, which received funding from the National Science Foundation, tested the effect that playing WoW had on the cognitive function of a group of seniors aged 60 - 77, and had some interesting results.
According to the researchers, the study clearly demonstrated that playing World of Warcraft can have a significant positive effect on a person's spacial ability and focus. Last March we conducted an interview with Dr. Jason Allaire, one of the authors involved in the study. Check it out for more insight into the research itself.
Other things Cantor listed as recipients of overzealous government spending include federally-funded conferences, certain property maintenance, and the IRS TV studio.
Wait, hold the phone, the IRS has a TV studio? The more you know!
Update 5:45 pm EDT: So, after we posted this article, Gains Through Gaming, the North Carolina State University lab responsible for the original studies, tweeted us the following:
@Restokin, a researcher and WoW forum MVP whom we interviewed last November, is working on a study about how video games can help adolescents with autism develop language and other information processing skills. She had this to say about the function and importance of pilot research in scientific studies:
This pilot study that the Gains Through Gaming lab conducted showed significant results, which they then published. Those results were certainly a factor in their obtaining that 1.2 million dollar NSF grant Cantor was talking about -- except the federal money is not being used to pay seniors to play World of Warcraft.
Pilot research is small-scale studies proving "proof of concept". ...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.
For more, read our follow up post.