[SLED] Work vs Play was Re: Click the Penguin

Marc Rexen marc.rexen at gmail.com
Tue May 19 09:29:07 PDT 2009

On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 1:09 PM, Sarah Robbins <intellagirl at gmail.com>wrote:

> This brings up a great point that I think Jeremy and AJ are forcing us to
> think about. What is "work" and what is "play" when it comes to SL learning?

My first feelings on getting into SL focused on "How can we convert all of
this adventitious work into a productive learning environment."

Is is play, or is it something innate about the graphics environment?

People will spend days/weeks/months on builds to make something visually,
and occasionally, (virtually) physically interesting.  The best tap into
something else (romance, violence...be it real or Role Play).  The venue is
so important.  Why?  You just cannot play out a romantic scene on a deserted
island, but it's easyt at Bogarts in a Gown / Suit.  Same occurs for gritty
urban Role Play...if the architecture / avatar-look isn't there, it doesn't
work, but when it is, it's very compelling.

Back to the adventitious work question.

I used to spend weeks, others too, manipulating 3-D crystal models on an SGI
workstation.  We were looking for new ways to manipulate a protein
(site-directed mutatgenesis) to alter it's behaviour.  The approach was
fruitful, adding verve to "yet another Insight-aided analysis" of the
molecular areas of interest for potential amino-acid targets for

Was it compelling because it was an aid to research?  Sure, on some level,
as having a serious goal can be one driver that keeps you slogging through
thousands of routine assays.  Still, there was something compelling about
being able to visualize what we were working on that made it so compelling
and tractable.

I get the same feeling in SL.

What I'm saying is don't assume you should focus on the play aspects as the
key driver for absorption into SL.  The graphics are there, always changing,
always different, always catching your eye.  But the graphics are framed by
something else, and when that something is compelling, absorption and
adventitious work seems to flow (one of the students AJ interviewed last
week commented to just this point about over-working within SL even after
admitting the graphics environment was weak for his specific needs).

I do agree that play is important, even necessary, as it can become the
compelling aspect that makes the visualizations tractable.  However, I would
not assume that play is the primary driver for Virtual Worlds.  It's that
compelling other aspect that goes along with the graphics that becomes the
driver...and play is just one possibile driver.

Will I see my beloved protein showing up in SL someday, allowing me to
revisit and walk through it with Insight-aided eyes?  I hope so, and I also
suspect it will be just as absorbing as it was the first go-around.

We've barely scratched the surface of what virtual worlds can do.  Indeed, I
suspect they will become the "default visualization" environment for many
existing and to be created products.  In a real sense, narrowing down to a
single visualization approach, with easy entry for users, could be a boon
for many areas of research as each product wouldn't have to create it's own
custom visualization solution.

...and I remember how I got one colleague into computers...a dippy DOS race
car program.  He played it for weeks...then I showed him how he could use it
to chart data easier and quicker...:)
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