Recently I discovered that Philip Rosendale, the founder of SL, claims that meetings in Second Life are better than real life because there’s no threatening eye contact. It was a real satisfaction for me, you know. I do not find eye contact “threatening” but I don’t see the reason of it in virtual world. I do not feel that we need eye contact in order to communicate and to understand each other in SL. On the contrary: I have a confession to make. Shhh.. don’t tell anybody, but in SL I actually never stare at peoples faces: I love camera controls: I look around, zoom in on a detail of your t-shirt, then, if I’m in a new place, I start exploring the land around me, go back to your face to notice that you changed your eye colour, position the camera so as to have a general view of the group and can see who’s talking at each time, then spin around, etc. etc. Does it distract me? Not at all: I’m listening and interacting with you… It’s like drawing on a napkin… it helps me concentrate.
So, when fellow educators in SL say that they would like to have facial emotions… well, I do not see the point. If we are talking I can hear your main facial expressions in your voice, if we are writing, we will add emoticons and lols to our chat.
Limitations sometimes are useful, above all for language learning. If you do not agree, try to think about the last time you helped someone in SL to perform a task: you had to use a looot of language, and to be very precise. And the person you had to help had to help you to help him describing in detail what the problem was, what he or she wanted to achieve, what was on his/her screen etc.
Let’s think now what happens in RL if someone ask me for help to do something? Mhm I guess that I would show him how to do it, and then ask him to repeat the task, correcting him here and there. Very little language involved though.
I’ve been thinking this over again this afternoon, after I closed my Novicraft session.
I was invited along with some colleagues by Paul Sweeney to take part in a Novicraft virtual team building game, and asked to download the program.
Since, according to my grandma I’m very curious, and according to Alpha Lorgsval, a good virtual friend of mine, I’m very impatient, immediately after installing the program I jumped in to have a look around.
I‘m well aware that people usually like what they already know and miss those things that they already have and that therefore I would tend to compare it with SL and that I would be very critical, at least at first.
The first thing I noticed was… no pigtails!!! Nor red eyes!!! Unbelievable! This game cannot be good if it does not let you have pigtails and red eyes!
Ok, Antonella, take a deep breath, calm down and go on: this is not SL, this is not SL, this is not SL. Understood?
The commands to move around were very easy to learn, and very limited too: walk, turn, jump, mouse look, normal look, open inventory, interact with an object and… that’s all. NO TELEPORT? How can people move in a virtual world without teleport? This is not going to work.
Then the big day arrived. There were we: three from Paul’s team, HP, a Swiss management consultant and Lotta’s avatar, representing Novicraft. We introduced ourselves. Before leaving us alone Lotta checked if we all understood our task: we were prisoners, and we had to escape.
We spent two hours overcoming physical obstacles (and without flying my dear!), being blind and letting other guide us (no camera controls! No way to have a peek at what’s going on around you!), deciphering together how to make things work, how to fulfil the tasks assigned to us (without even being able to pass object to the others or to rez them inworld to study them together). We discussed, made hypothesis, coordinated ourselves and talked, talked, talked.
The two hours seemed minutes, we had great time, our team worked together smoothly and we all felt deeply satisfied when solved some of the puzzles.
So maybe it’s time to put some more limits in SL to let people talk and reason together instead of simply clicking.
If you are intereted in Novicraft, check this: NoviCraft: virtual world team building