Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Second Life

In response to yesterday's post on virtual environments, I received a bunch of mail about Second Life. Perhaps I should have posted on my experience with Second Life before posting on MMOGs, but that's okay.

Second Life -- ideally -- is a virtual world created by its inhabitants (called residents). In this way, you can do many of the things I suggested in the last post -- such as create your own environments and historical re-enactments -- although the graphics pale in comparison to World of Warcraft or several other MMOGs.

That said, the real difficulty I've had in bringing Second Life to the high school classroom is that it's no place for minors.

What do I mean?

Well, the very thing that makes Second Life so unique -- the fact that it is entirely created by its users -- is also the same thing that makes it such a difficult place to take students. I would encourage all teachers to log on and create an avatar; there's a wealth of great stuff in there: everything from Community College distance classes to lectures in Princeton University's Second Life campus to tours of world capitals to great online avatar-customization shopping centers. But I dare any newbie to the Second Life world to not innocently find themselves lost and end up strolling into a rated-X part of town. As an adult, you should be able to handle that.

But a 14 year old?


So, Second Life remains a virtual destination for college students and adults. And that's fine. And there's a ton of cool stuff to see and do once you are there. But, there's too much of a disconnect for touring with kids.

See, the difference in an MMOG like World of Warcraft is that the virtual environment has been created by the creators of the game whereas in Second Life, so long as you have the virtual money, you can create whatever you want. Second, MMOGs usually have GMs (Game Masters) working the environment so that if a problem arises, it's settled quickly. In Second Life, there is very little in the way of policing.

Now, there is a teenaged-version of Second Life. But I haven't been there (not being a teenager myself...) Perhaps you could send a few crack students in to do some reconnaissance. I imagine that there's got to be some way to work out the basic problems.

1 comment:

  1. In Second Life, you can do a lot of creating even if you don't have the virtual money. Money is required to buy your own "land", and if you want to upload your own custom textures for your creations, it costs about 4¢ per image. But you can model, build, script, design from the get-go.


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