Virtual gaming fever has hit the MacArthur Foundation, resulting in the philanthropic organization awarding Indiana University professor Edward Castronova a $240,000 grant to build a Second Life -esque virtual world fashioned after the plays of Shakespeare. The project, entitled "Arden: The World of Shakespeare," is meant to let Castronova and his research team delve into online behaviors by conducting ongoing social experiments online.

In an article by CNET's Daniel Terdiman, the professor explains that the early designs are influenced by a "Richard III" theme, which gives designers and prospective gamers the necessary historical context needed to spark the imagination.

Castrova, an Associate Professor of Telecommunications at Indiana University, is the author of Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games and Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier, as well as the director of the Synthetic Worlds Initiative. The Synthetic Worlds Initiative was founded in 2004 to "promote research on synthetic worlds." The research center has both a website and a blog .