Mattias Ljungström* has a very interesting (and pretty) paper using Alexander's design patterns to analyse world of warcraft. Reading it raises questions about the relationship between aesthetic and functional, and between real and virtual. For example:
Furthermore, the top of the bank in Orgrimmar is related to pattern 94.
Sleeping in Public. This pattern argues that it is “a mark of success
in a park, public lobby or a porch, when people can come there and fall
asleep” (Alexander et al. 1977, 458). Players in the game tend to
place their avatars in certain places when they know they will be away
from keyboard for a while and the top of the bank is one of these places.
According to the guidelines in the pattern these places should be made
“relatively sheltered, protected from circulation, perhaps up a
step, with seats and grass to slump down upon” (Alexander et al.
1977, 459). Some of these aspects are definitely missing, and could probably
further enhance the game world if they were implemented.
Now, in a real world, a chilli breeze will make a place uncomfortable for sleeping. Hence our choice of where to relax will be influenced by shelter etc. It may be that such considerations are sub-consciously translated to our sense of aesthetics. But will this sense be carried over to a virtual world, where we feel no cold?