Virtual World Technology
Linden Lab has designed its virtual world technology to appeal to casual users who want creative entertainment, as well as to enterprise users who need reliability and cutting edge performance for product development. It’s not surprising that the Second Life platform can satisfy two seemingly different markets, since its founder
surrounded himself with veterans from Disney, Adobe and Apple to create his company. From the beginning,
the vision behind Second Life
was to create a new world rather than just another new high tech game.
That vision is apparent in
the immersion experience
that Second Life’s technology allows. The graphic quality of the avatars, their costumes and their environment are so close to photo realism that residents can easily relate to each other and the environment, and experience emotional responses. For example, residents can develop real attachments to their virtual cats and dogs, and bring that empathy back with them into the real world as a new sensitivity to the plight of abandoned animals.
But beyond individual experiences, Second Life offers the experience of collaborative creation. By interacting with other avatars, whether going on a shopping trip together to create ensembles for a fantasy ball, building a night club to host a party for a couple hundred new friends or building a castle in the sky with a real life spouse, people become immersed in the process of interactive creation through the use of virtual world technology. And since SL can transcend many of the limits of the material world -- like gravity, ‘natural’ colors and physical attributes – it becomes second nature to think outside of the box.
The group dynamics and support for creative thinking are what makes the SL platform valuable to corporations and educational institutions. It allows businesses and universities to create activities, virtual training situations and virtual contexts that simulate the real world. Educators have long known that learning that is paired with experience is not only more thorough, but longer lasting and transferable to new situations.
Both airline industry and the armed services have been successfully using flight simulators for decades, and benefitting from a substantial savings in fuel and equipment. Students and employees can ‘feel’ what its like to give a presentation in front of a large group (even though it’s a virtual group), or ‘experience’ what it’s like to negotiate a complex business transaction. Using virtual world technology, the risk of mistakes that could cause catastrophic losses of materials, equipment or personnel can be minimized or eliminated all together.
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