Teaching Technology through MUVE

Following the MUVEnation project (MUVE: Multi-User Virtual Environments)

Activity 5 – Sharing stories of our first steps into Second Life!

Posted by slandete on Monday, November 17, 2008

How would you describe your first steps? What were the technical issues, if any? What did you feel about the avatar you chose? What was orientation island like? Could you find help as needed? Where did you go? Did you speak to other avatars? What would improve the experience, if anything? What previous knowledge and skills helped you?

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I joined Second Life (“SL” from now on) just after joining the MUVEnation project. My first steps were clumsy, but being familiar with computers – although not so much with games – I could get myself together quickly in the basic stuff: moving around, changing appearance, moving the camera, etc. General computer literacy helped me getting things done: moving the camera was the same key combination as some 3D games (Tomb Raider?),  right-clicking on an object gives you the context menu with options, etc.

I had some problems with unboxing things, which I described in the Eureka moment game, but the rest was intuitive enough and with the help of Orientation Island’s tutorials (the design of them was incredible!) I feel like I know my ABCs. What I specially liked was the idea that behind all the avatars that I saw there was also people like me trying to get around, and other people helping them.

First things first, I wanted to change the looks of my avatar just in case it was too standard – I didn’t feel like bumping into unknown twins. In fact I was terrified by the idea of being mistaken by one of those twins who committed a crime, and as a result ending up convicted and having to do time in SL: what kind of horrible things would you find in a virtual jail? Don’t count on me to find out. What I did was uglify a little bit my avatar to make it look more realistic because I felt it was kind of cheating to have violet eyes and long dark hair just because you could. I know your avatar in SL is not supposed to look like you, but I would feel better if it did so I still have to tone down its general musculature. Or else I can gain musculature in real life, whatever is easier to do. Sadly, as much as in real life, we often forget that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

After that, I went into video tutorials and was flipped by the enormous possibilities of creation: you can design your own clothes, build objects, program the objects to interact in a specific way, etc. Absolutely amazing. I used mainly the video tutorials in Spanish that you can find here, which were found via the official video tutorials page.

I spoke to other avatars, some newbies which shared my amazement and clumsiness and some experts which were very helpful. It felt great to be helped by totally anonymous strangers.

As final conclusion, the general interface is usable and intuitive enough, and it is not difficult to learn your basic way around if you’ve worked with computers and have some experience with games. What I would add as a way of improving the flow of knowledge is a way to be able to see what the person trying to teach is seeing, a short of “looking though his eyes” kind of thing. Then, instead of having to describe verbally the position of buttons and the series of clicks or drags and drops to be made, the apprentice could just have a look at the other person’s interface and see how it’s done – very much like in a video tutorial, but live and custom-made to its particular needs.

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One Response to “Activity 5 – Sharing stories of our first steps into Second Life!”

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