Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
I have always had - in the context of our online community - a unique perspective on things like Second Life because of my history working with Multi-User Dungeons (or Domains, MUDs). So I was especially pleased to encounter this excellent interview with the creator of the first MUD, Richard Bartle as he discusses, among other things, 3D virtual worlds like Second Life. Some highlights:

Why are people less altruistic in the new virtual worlds? "The virtual worlds are not as sophisticated. Yes, they have the 3D graphics, but what you can do in them as a player isn't as sophisticated as what you can do in a textual world."

Can virtual communities really become important? "Game worlds in particular are places of adventure and excitement, similar to the real world but apart from it. People go there as part of a hero's journey - a means of self-discovery (shh! don't let the players know - they think it's just "to have fun"). When they've grown as people and become the individuals they set out to become, they have no need to play any more."

Will Web 3D take off? "Text is very good at conveying information. You don't need a 3D environment to read text, and indeed it could get in the way.... Also, in an avatar-based virtual world, you're controlling a character... Do I gain anything from having to direct my character to read something I want to read? Or is it an unnecessary level of indirection?"

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Sept 30, 2023 07:49 a.m.

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