Example – Video Games: World of Warcraft

Figure 10. A screenshot of World of Warcraft gameplay.

Blizzard Entertainment, 2020.

The online game World of Warcraft or WoW (Blizzard Entertainment 2020) started in 2004 and is one of the most popular games on the internet, with millions of subscribers (Ducheneaut et al. 2006, Bainbridge 2007, Braithwaite 2018) (Figure 10). Because of WoW’s popularity, scientists globally use it to study topics ranging from social and behavioral sciences to economics and computer science (Bainbridge 2007), and its gameplay allows for a virtual example of ecological resilience concepts.

Early versions of WoW explicitly included resilience, where players had a character attribute called “Resilience”, later changed to “PvP Resilience” (https://wow.gamepedia.com/PvP_Resilience). The resilience of a character is a measure of the amount of damage a character can withstand when under attack, i.e. how much total damage it takes to kill a character. Increasing this attribute reduces the amount of damage that a character can receive from another player.  This parallels the concept of ecological resilience, where increasing a system’s (character’s) resilience increases its ability to absorb disturbances (e.g. enemy player attacks) and resist changing to an alternative state (e.g. character death).

If resilience can be measured and applied in video games, it can also be applied to complex, real-world problems.


Blizzard Entertainment, I. 2020. World of Warcraft. https://worldofwarcraft.com/en-us/.

Ducheneaut, N., N. Yee, E. Nickell, and R. J. Moore. 2006. Building an MMO with mass appeal: A look at gameplay in World of Warcraft. Games and Culture 1:281–317. 

Bainbridge, W. S. 2007. The scientific research potential of virtual worlds. Science 317:472–476.Braithwaite, A. 2018. WoWing Alone: The Evolution of “Multiplayer” in World of Warcraft. Games and Culture 13:119–135.