Immersion and the Conceptual Hump

I’m obviously biased in my assessment of Tateru Nino: she is a contributing writer for this publication and I’m already convinced she’s one of the world’s best virtual worlds observers.

Articles like this one are why I believe that. It’s a superb piece on immersion and how that can be hard to achieve until those first few frustrating hours of getting to know a virtual environment are overcome: the Conceptual Hump. Take a few minutes to read the whole thing, and appreciate my frustration at not being able to command more of Tateru’s time 😉

Speaking of which – a book review from Tateru is incoming in the next few days. If there’s something you’d like her or I to review, do drop us a line. and immersive learning

SA-based Kerry Johnson is a an educator who let me know about two projects she’s been involved with. The first is a video called “Immersive Learning” it’s game on!”. Kerry states its purpose is “to help educators start conversations with administrators and policy makers regarding the educational benefits of immersive learning environments.”

This is one impressive effort that beautifully sums up the educational outcomes being generated in virtual environments like Second Life, World of Warcraft and Quest Atlantis. Watch it for yourself here:

You can download the video here and it’s licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives license.

The second project is happening this Friday, 4 September. TAFESA are after educators willing to be volunteers to roleplay customers for a Second Life scenario for customer service trainees. If you are interested, register here.

The TAFE sphere have been key drivers of virtual worlds and education in Australia, and videos like the one above make it clear why.

VastPark release Immersion player

VastPark have been a littler quiet on the news front recently but they’ve changed that today with the announcement of a virtual worlds’ player called Immersion. The player, which will be open source, will allow for VastPark-created worlds to be embedded into websites. VastPark themselves mention Google Lively as the obvious comparison.

CEO Bruce Joy’s take:

“We think that virtual worlds will start to become more utilitarian: you can create a room in minutes and decide to have a VoIP based meeting in there. This will lead to many businesses wanting to host their own micro worlds just as they host their website. We want to make that easy, low cost and provide an open source and a commercial white label software choice.”

Immersion will have scriptable “PowerPoint-style” controls and the current Browser and Viewer technology used in VastPark will be merged into Immersion.

The open-sourcing of Immersion comes on top of the VastPark server code being open source, so it’s an overt strategy by VastPark. It’s probably a necessary strategy as well given that behemoths like Google Lively are now competitors. That said, the open source route is being pursued with some protections built in for the company. Lead Developer at VastPark, Craig Presti, explains:

“VastPark is built for developers, by developers. The whole system is easily extended by developers creating plugins that can remain proprietary or be open sourced at the discretion of the developer. We’ll continue to release binaries under an entrepreneur friendly end user license. That’s much better than being essentially forced to open source your widget or your plug-in by the GNU GPL. We think there’s a middle way.”

Whether this middle way is the path to success is obviously up for grabs. What’s encouraging is that a smaller (and partially Australian-based) player is remaining in the game and not being fazed by the ever-growing competiition in the marketplace.

We’re waiting on confirmation from vastPark on Immersion’s release date.

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