Sony Provides Complete Everquest 2 Server Logs to Researchers

One of my students pointed me to this post noting that Sony Online Entertainment has provided 4 years of server log data for their online game EverQuest 2 to researchers. From the Ars Technica story:

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. …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, everything—what do you want?”
“Can we have it all?”
“Sure.”

The end result is a log that includes four years of data for over 400,000 players that took part in the game…

Sony states that the logs were “scrubbed of all PII (Personally Identifiable Information) prior to being provided to the researchers.” Presuming Sony has sufficiently anonymized the data (a troubled presumption, for sure), I still wonder  how such a data release might affect the community of users in this social sphere. Does the fact that information about one’s activities is being shared and mined change the contextual norms of information flow in an MMORPG?

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