The assumptions we hold about men and women tend to replicate themselves online.
Pardus is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game. It creates a space-based universe in which players interact with each other, cooperating and fighting and developing societies and economies. The game currently features over 300,000 players from around the world. And each of those players' actions is recorded -- without the players being strictly aware of the recording.
Which means that Pardus is both a game and a huge, rich data set.
The researchers Michael Szell and Stefan Thurner, of the Medical University of Vienna, took that data set and analyzed it. They focused on social interactions within the game -- and in particular on the way the players' genders related to each other within its framework.