I’ve been in many classes that reference Second Life, an expansive 3D virtual world built for socializing. So I decided to try it out! This blog post is about the tutorial and my reflection of its educational value. In videogames, the tutorials are usually a solo-venture. In Second Life, after choosing a sim character, you are immediately […]
I’ve been in many classes that reference Second Life, an expansive 3D virtual world built for socializing. So I decided to try it out! This blog post is about the tutorial and my reflection of its educational value.
In videogames, the tutorials are usually a solo-venture. In Second Life, after choosing a sim character, you are immediately placed in a virtual world with other new players. Some of them look just like you, because there are about 10 model sims to choose from. This immediately gave me the sensation of community, knowing that other people were learning the basics and might fail a few times. This initial stage also set the tone that Second Life is a social experience, whether it’s an adventure towards self-exploration or interaction with other players.
As I continued through the tutorial, I learned that we were in “Learning Island.” After the lessons which teach you the basic mechanics, you are encouraged to explore before going to “Social island,” since there’s no way to return.
I initially got frustrated, thinking that the game implied that learning is an isolated event. After some reflection, I think this was intentional and fits well with the purpose of Second Life. This separation communicates that learning emerges from interaction with others (learn more about Social Pedagogy here). Although Social Island doesn’t provide many opportunities to socialize directly with other players, I was free to explore the virtual space and learn through challenges.
There were two moments where my suspended belief was broken. There were times when, ironically, I felt alone in Social Island. I tried to chat with other players, and found myself assuming that each sim accurately represented their real world identity. How hypocritical of me! I was playing as a pear-shaped redhead – characteristics that in no way embody my real life identity.
As I was exploring, I happened upon a tablet that outlined the rules for game play. It was made very clear that although Second Life is a virtual world, the same social rules from the real world apply. You aren’t allowed to harass anyone. You will be punished for being rude or performing non-consensual behavior among another person. Second Life developers acknowledge that many players may want to take advantage of the magic circle that videogames traditionally embody. These rules are made clear so that people understand that there is little difference between the magic circle of real life and the one in virtual life. It is made more clear that the game establishes a safe space for all, and tries to democratize the experience for every player.
Other than briefly watching friends play Final Fantasy X, this is my first time playing it from the beginning. It was originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. The game has text and voice to drive the plot forward, which I found exciting at certain times and distracting during other moments. During the first […]
Other than briefly watching friends play Final Fantasy X, this is my first time playing it from the beginning. It was originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. The game has text and voice to drive the plot forward, which I found exciting at certain times and distracting during other moments. During the first 30 minutes of the game, the player is not allowed to skip any film nor save, but at times, is allowed to pause the game while the “background” music continued. In films, the music is always synchronized with on-screen action. But during the cinematic interludes of Final Fantasy X, pausing the game did not pause the music, which not only confused me but gave its game music a fluid identity between the diegetic and nondiegetic world. Another aspect that had a flexible identity was deciding the character’s name; there is a scene in which the character must talk to a group of AI. They ask the character for his name, and a menu pops up to give him a name. The game imitates many features in film, from the camera angles to the montages used for transitions. They were so integrated with one another, that sometimes it was confusing to know when the player should move the character!
The game introduction included more of the player “watching” than “playing.” That difference is the same distinction that exists between engagement and immersion in video games. Immersion (or spatial presence, as it has been termed by Jamie Madigan) needs the player to believe in the world and its context. On the other hand, engagement is similar to the feeling of “flow” (a psychology term for undivided attention and involvement during an activity). While playing Final Fantasy X, the game created a feeling of immersion but I found myself bored – almost frustrated at times – with how unengaging it was. The narrative drove so much of the immersion that I began to feel bored. Frustration built as I yearned for more game play and not so much watching the cinematic storyline. The characters didn’t help, because they drilled in the plot by saying phrases like “listen to my story” and “this is your story, it all begins here.”
The session ended when the game provided me a “Traveller’s Save Sphere,” which stores the character’s HP and MP and allows the player to save game play. The sphere wants to be a diegetic machinic part of the game, although I did not feel so comfortable with the game’s decision to integrate the nondiegetic with the diegetic. I’m excited to continue, although I hope this time, I hope I can expect more “play” time.
Galloway, A. “Gamic Action, Four Moments,” from Gaming, pp. 1-38.
Madigan, J. “The Psychology of Immersion in Video Games” The Psychology of Video Games. Web. 2010.