Friday, February 09, 2007

Learning in Second Life?

Today I thought my mind was following his own plan. Well, I visited the "Virtual Hallucinations Center" of UC Davis and University of Queensland in Second Life.

This is one of the many spots, which are build with an education reason. The center is created to let you experience the daily life of a schizophrenic patient. In this center you can walk through a building and find yourself in certain unpleasant and depressing situations. You start your 'trip' with choosing a male or female voice. During the experience some scary voices will pop up into your head. You will get some orders to kill yourself or pick up a gun. You will also experience what it will mean if you encounter visual distortions.

For me this is just a simple educational experience but it shows a little bit about the potential. It can give you an experience, which is otherwise difficult to obtain. For some visitors the experience can have an emotional impact but for me the experience was not that intense. The reason is that the quality of the graphics is from a 1985 level. And the user interface is keeping me from a total and overwhelming involvement. Too much attention is needed for navigation and interaction with the environment. For me it would be more valuable to have the same info from their website, with a nice video or a great animation.

It reminds me of the first days of streaming audio on the web: you were feeling that something special was happening but the quality (due to bandwidth limitations) was too bad to get the message straight. Now we can enjoy streaming audio to the full extent and we can focus on the content.

Your image in the mirror is dying and a voice is
telling you to kill yourself

The floor at first sight....

..and after a moment the floor changed into
water with stepping stones.

If you want to visit the center, just search for "UC Davis".

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