Archive for September, 2007

Virtual Worlds Comparison Chart

Click here for a comparison table of virtual worlds, as of August 2007. Each software title has been listed, along with platform, cost per month, target user, style, etc.

This chart was very useful, got a basic idea of all the virtual worlds and the features they support or not support. Most importantly I got a list of which virtual environments are ‘education ready’ i.e. have the ability to be utilised for education purposes. These include Active Worlds, Fonterra Systems, Teen Second Life, Second Life and Whyville.

My focus narrows down to look more closely at the worlds that support education.


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Some forms of Imaginary Worlds

Listed below are some forms of imaginary worlds that people engage with.

Virtual worlds
A definition by Richard Bartle – “A computer implements virtual worlds (or network of computers) that simulate an environment. Some—but not all— of the entities in this environment act under the direct control of individual people. Because several such people can affect the same environment simultaneously, the world is said to be shared or multi-user. The environment continues to exist and develop internally (at least to some degree) even when there are no people interacting with it; this means it is persistent.” More

A definition from Wikipedia, “A computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to inhabit and interact via avatars. This habitation usually is represented in the form of two or three-dimensional graphical representations of humanoids (or other graphical or text-based avatars).”

List of virtual worlds –

  • Active Worlds (For teens and adults), PC and Linux
  • Barbie Girls (For kids and teens), PC only
  • Club Penguin (For kids and teens), PC and Mac
  • Forterra Systems (For training applications), PC
  • Gaia Online (For teens and adults), PC and Mac
  • Habbo Hotel (For teens and adults), PC and Mac
  • Neopets (For kids and teens), PC and Mac
  • Second Life (For adults only), PC and Mac
  • The Sims Online (For teens and adults), PC only
  • Teen Second Life (For teens only), PC and Mac
  • There (For teens and adults), PC only
  • Whyville (For kids and teens), PC and Mac
  • Zwinktopia (Mainly for teens), PC and Mac

In roleplaying, participants adopt and act out the role of characters, or parts, that may have personalities, motivations, and backgrounds different from their own. Roleplaying is like being in an improvisational drama or free-form theatre, in which the participants are the actors who are playing parts, and the audience. More

Role-playing games
The only thing that separates an RPG from the act of role-playing is that an RPG occurs within the confines of a game structure with general rules put in place to produce a specific and expected experience. More

Role playing games can be single player or multiplayer. Multiplayer RPGs can be further categorized into live and not live. More

Some role-playing games –

  • Choose your own adventure
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Everquest
  • Assasin

Some traditional childrens games also involve simple forms of role-playing –

  • Cops and Robbers
  • Playing House
  • Teacher
  • Doctor

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Design Questions

This is a research blog where I will document my exploration in the areas of Imaginary Worlds, Education and Youth. Some initial questions that will drive my research are:

  • What are some different forms of imaginary worlds, digital and non digital, that people like to engage in?
  • What are some existing efforts to integrate virtual worlds, simulations, and models into learning environments?
  • What do youth like about these imaginary worlds?
  • What kinds of core activities do virtual worlds support?
  • How are kids traditionally introduced to these worlds and how do they learn to use them?

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