Education in Virtual Worlds, Second Life, Virtual World Platforms

Virtual World Experiments In Focus: Linux Insider

Cost-cutting and limitless experimentation: these are key reasons why conferences, case studies and scientific experiments should take place in virtual worlds, according to LinuxInsider (LI).

The site recently published a two-part series that looked at the success of scientific experiments in virtual worlds, including Second Life and World of Warcraft. The publication found that costs are significantly lowered as travel expenses are eliminated, which also helps to boost attendance at any given event. The upside is also huge for scientific experimenters:

“Due to the nature of virtual worlds,” said Aimee M. Roberts, analyst of digital media at Frost & Sullivan, to LI, “experiments can be conducted with greater flexibility than those conducted in the real world.”

John Lester, SL’s operations director, noted how effective SL is for the academic and research community.

“Second Life provides an open platform for creativity and experimentation,” he said. “That makes it very popular with academics, who use it to research everything from urban planning to computer science to psychology.”

In the second part of the article, LI digs deeper into specific experiments happening in SL and WoW.

William Sims Bainbridge, program director in human-centered computing at the National Science Foundation (NSF), organized the first scientific conference in WoW, attracting almost 300 attendees, with mostly positive results. He is also writing a book that looks at WoW “as if it were real — and it IS real — using classical sociological theories and methods,” he told LI.

LI goes on to describe some of the innovations happening in SL, including many of the medical simulations happening there. The author also talks about GamerCoach, a training platform that combines real and virtual world environments, and about two other virtual world studies, one about phobias and another about schizophrenia, that utilize non-gaming worlds.

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