Today I conducted a small tour of my research island, Godot, in Second Life. The visitors were all people involved with, or interested in, Psychodrama.
As one of the virtual hosts for the event I would like to thank everyone who attended the session. It was nice to have people back on the island. Thanks once again to Susan for organising the event.
It was also interesting to note that some of the same issues I’ve identified in my study are still evident when it comes to new users of SL.
Second Life is accessed via a separate viewer and initially we had some people looking at secondlife.com webpages wondering how the 3D experience occurs. This reinforces, in my mind, the need to have experienced users when facilitating relatively complex tasks in world. I think, if we are to move ahead with any significant inworld project work, that we’ll need to encourage all users to develop their inworld skills. Minimum skills would include:
- movement – walking, running, flying, teleporting;
- navigation – understanding location information, using maps and mini-maps, using landmarks, etc;
- communication – text chat, instant message, voice, notecards;
- viewing – camera control, shifting perspective, etc;
- interface – understanding/controlling all the viewer menus, controlling preferences, controlling environmental settings, etc
- avatar – ability to control modifications, attachments, clothing, inventory, etc
Once these skills are mastered then the ability to be fully engaged during inworld activities is enhanced. The next level of skill would include items such as building, scripting, finances, etc.
I’ve been involved with, and am currently organising, several major inworld events apart from my own research. There are many conferences, workshops, seminars and classes that are convened within Second Life. There are also counselling, medical and religious services offered to residents. Many educational institutions are present in Second Life conducting business, teaching and learning, and research activities. I think Psychodrama (and associated activities) can also play a role in this world. However there are very likely new modes of engagement and different presuppositions that need to be established that will mark this experience as different, but comparable, to traditional face-to-face conventions.
We only encountered a small portion of the island and looked more at the big picture than the wealth of detail that is embedded in the site. As Susan commented a lot of the materials I’m using specifically for my research project would not be required for introductory explorations in virtual psychodrama.
There are already several face value parallels between the two experiences; the demarcation between real-virtual is not as straightforward as some might assume – like the blended reality of drama engagement. Two worlds held in one awareness…. separate and yet inextricably linked. Something akin to “metaxis“.
I would like to invite the same group fo guests, when they have a little more inworld experience, to begin to test the water with some simple drama activities – nothing attempting therapeutic outcomes, just simple introductory activities to begin to isolate some of the inherent differences in experience and expectation of the virtual.