Dealing in virtual real estate

Several weeks ago – and as part of Duckling – a Zookeeper, a learning technologist, a learning designer, an e-learning researcher and a smattering of occupational psychologists  met to discuss the ways in which the latter could introduce Second Life into some of their online activities (SL-tivities) for distance learning students.

Most of the ideas from the psychologists were terrific. My favourite was to construct a localised rail service that could be manipulated to introduce delays, accidents, etc., and ask the students to react accordingly. Another involved evacuation procedures for a burning submarine. Fantastic!

What I liked about these suggestions was the fact that everyone was thinking in terms of the unique benefits of the virtual world: do in Second Life what cannot be achieved in real life – or only with immense technical difficulty or cost.

Practically, in terms of time and SL programming skills, the railway was not possible; however, generating evacuation procedures were. Thinking a submarine might be quite hard to locate, we talked a little about other possible structures and came up with an oil rig.

A quick search on X Street found an ideal structure, built by a talented SL designer named Sky Maruti. I contacted Sky and arranged  to have my avatar, Johnson Zuta, walk around the rig the following day.

The oil rig seemed ideal, especially as it came with copy/modify rights. Matt and I could adapt it with extra stairwells, and add smoke and such as requested by the psychologists. We could also use variations of the rig for future projects.

I contacted Sky again, explained that we were very interested in the oil rig and asked whether we might be given the artefact rather than pay the L$7000, as we are an educational research project. After looking at the project website, Sky agreed, and donated the oil rig to Duckling , for which we are all very grateful. (Sky is now a firm supporter of Duckling.)

My first foray into virtual real estate has been fun, from generating the initial idea to locating and acquiring the SL artefact. And I’ve made contact with a talented SL designer, who we may be able to use in the future.

I look forward to adapting the oil rig and observing the  SL-tivities. I’ll blog about both of these events in due course.

Simon Kear

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  1. Developing the Second Life oil rig « Beyond Distance Research Alliance Blog

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