Art and Exploration, Education in Virtual Worlds, Virtual World Platforms

The Social Life of Avatars: 30 Days in Active Worlds

By way of Digital Urban a chapter by Dr. Andrew Hudson Smith on 30 days in a Active World tracing the evolution of a virtual community, condom machines and, well, a ghostly abandoned sim with a lot of spare prims lying around.

Worth a read however, described as:”a project aimed at documenting the development of a virtual environment from the beginning to end, the point where a plot of virgin land would develop into a community with a urban layout.

In a sense the project was similar to an early days ‘Big Brother’ in that the community was watched and logged 24 hours a day with webcams beamed around the world showing the latest activity.”

Nothing like a reminder of the early days of griefing:

“On Day 4, on logging in, I was greeted with 25 email messages and a stream of ICQs (a telegram message system) complaining that there was a user in the world knocking down buildings and placing thousands of objects. This (at that time unknown) user was running riot in the world, placing numerous objects and looking as if he intended to overload the world server.”

The 30-day project ended with residents creating and submitting four objects: “A Condom Machine (to be placed by Lover’s Lane), a Moon, a Park Bench and a Carousel.”

As time in world drops off, the community tapers off as well:

“The number of users of the world began to decline and eventually the world was only
populated by 2-3 users at its peak. The world therefore became another empty world in the AW Universe and began to resemble a ghost town, a feeling that is present in the many areas of AW. The ‘ghost town’ effect may be seen as a symptom of the frontier philosophy in AW. Population levels in newly created worlds tend to be higher as people are attracted by the ability to take part in a new project.”

Thank goodness Mitch promises we’re leaving the frontier behind.

PDF here.

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