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An Introduction to Virtual World


Second Life and Beyond – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: An Introduction to Virtual World

An Introduction to Virtual World
  • Second Life and Beyond

  • What is Virtual World
  • Second Life
  • How Second Life Works
  • Business in Second Life
  • Research in Second Life
  • Problem with Second Life
  • Other Virtual Worlds
  • OpenSimulator
  • Wonderland
  • Summary

What is Virtual World
  • A virtual world is a computer-based simulated
    environment intended for its users to inhabit and
    interact via avatars. - Wikipedia

What is Virtual World
  • Virtual world evolves from
  • Social Networks
  • Online Games
  • World of Warcraft a very popular massively
    multiplayer online role-playing game (MMOG) that
    takes place in a fantasy virtual world.
  • Simulations

What is Virtual World
  • Besides World of Warcraft, there are also more
    realistic virtual worlds, which do not focus on
  • These virtual worlds can be used for
  • Communication
  • Business
  • Education
  • Social Networking

Second Life
  • Second Life is the most popular non-gaming
    virtual world right now.
  • Statistics (source)
  • User-to-User transactions in 2009 totaled US567
    million in 2009, growth of 65 over 2008.
  • The total amount of virtual currency in
    circulation reached L6.95 billion, growth of 23
    over December 2008. (1 270L)
  • Residents spent 481 million hours in Second Life
    in 2009, 21 growth over 2008 
  • Monthly Repeat Logins reached an all-time high of
    769,000 in December 2009, 15 growth over
    December 2008

How Second Life Works
  • Users download the Second Life client to enter
    the virtual world.

How Second Life Works
  • Client/Server Architecture
  • Server Like web server, stores all the
    information (avatar, object, finance, land) about
    Second Life and deals with all the requests. All
    servers are hosted at Linden Lab
  • Client An open-source 3D virtual world viewer
    that renders the graphics to users.

Server_at_Linden Lab
How Second Life Works
  • All the objects and activities in Second Life are
    created by its residents.
  • Residents have different tools within Second
  • Communication tools
  • Text Communication
  • Chat (Public)
  • Instant Messaging (Private)
  • Voice Chat
  • Using Gestures and Animations

How Second Life Works
  • Transportation tools
  • Walk/Fly in a region
  • Teleport to other regions
  • Build tools
  • 3D Primitives Building
  • Linden Scripting Language
  • Texture, Sound and Animation Import

Business in Second Life
  • Second Life currency Linden Dollar (L)
  • 1 US 260 L
  • L can be used both on Web or in the virtual

Business in Second Life
  • Business Opportunities
  • Selling virtual goods (C2C, B2C, B2B)
  • Building communities
  • Customer support
  • Training research
  • Public relation
  • Marketing

Business in Second Life
  • Despite the economic crisis around world,
    business in Second Life ,including user-to-user
    transaction (lower-left figure), and virtual
    store sales (lower-right figure), has been
    growing steadily.

Business in Second Life
  • Real companies in Second Life

Research in Second Life
  • The burgeoning of Second Life has attracted
    researchers from various fields. Interesting
    research questions are raised in disciplines
    across business, education and social sciences.
    (Messinger, Stroulia, et al. 2009)
  • Business domain
  • Strategy How can virtual worlds like Second Life
    support themselves? By single up-front fee,
    periodic subscription fee, advertising or virtual
    product sales?
  • Marketing How should an avatar agents
    appearance be designed?
  • Organizational Issues Can virtual workspace
    improve group productivity?

Research in Second Life
  • Education domain
  • How can virtual worlds be used for education and
    distance learning?
  • What topics are particularly suitable for classes
    in virtual worlds?
  • Will most Internet learning evolve to use virtual
    reality technologies?
  • Social sciences domain
  • Sociology Do behaviors and attitudes learned in
    virtual worlds affect behaviors and attitudes in
    the real world? How? In particular, do virtual
    worlds influence attitudes toward violence,
    sexuality, and conservatism?
  • Psychology What are peoples motivation within
    virtual worlds?

Research in Second Life
  • Though most research on virtual worlds are still
    at infancy, we see several existing research that
    have addressed some of the questions.
  • Education
  • Franceschi, Lee, et al. (2009) conducted
    experiments in three learning environments
  • Traditional classrooms
  • Text-based e-learning
  • 3D virtual world.
  • The experiment results show that virtual
    classroom in Second Life is a better learning
    environment than text-based e-learning.
  • Lester and King (2009) did experiments to compare
    the average grades between two classes of
    students, with one class taught face-to-face and
    the other in Second Life. The findings show that
    face-to-face learning results in a slightly
    higher average grades 84/100 compared to 80/100.

Research in Second Life
  • Sociology Psychology
  • Yee (2006A, 2006B) studied the motivation of
    people playing massive multi-player online
    role-playing games (MMORPGs) and virtual worlds.
    Based on his study, user motivation consists of
    five factors achievement, relationship,
    immersion, escapism, and manipulation.
  • Yee and Bailenson (2007) used experiments to show
    the Proteus effect, which states that
    individuals behavior conforms to their digital
    self-representation independent of how others
    perceive them.
  • Yee, Bailenson, et al. (2007) and Friedman,
    Steed, et al. (2007) studied the nonverbal
    communication (NVC) in social interaction among
    Second Life residents. Both research shed light
    on how social norms evolve from real world to
    virtual world.

Problems with Second Life
  • During the past two years, Second Life did not
    gain its popularity as expected (compared to
    Facebook and Twitter). Some companies even began
    to close their virtual companies in Second Life.
    We can see there are several problems with Second
    Life, and all other virtual worlds
  • High system requirements few personal computers
    can run Second Life client smoothly.
  • High learning curve May be difficult for people
    new to 3D environments. And the object creation
    techniques is extremely difficult to manage.
  • Little integration with Web Though there are
    websites selling virtual products, we see little
    application that utilize the power of both Second
    Life and Web 2.0.

Other Virtual Worlds
  • There are several open source projects that
    provide people the chance to host their own
    virtual world. Among them, two projects have
    gain some success
  • OpenSimulator (OpenSim) (http//
    ) a C based 3D application server that
    emulates the protocols of Second Life. With
    OpenSimulator users can build a small scale
    Second Life-like virtual world.
  • Wonderland (http// a
    Java based virtual world server that is
    undergoing fastest development. It supports more
    operation between virtual world client and other
    programs running on users computer. Users can
    drag anything from their computer to create
    virtual objects in Wonderland.

Other Virtual Worlds
  • Why having other virtual worlds?
  • Scalability While Second Life is a world-wide
    virtual world, sometimes people may only need a
    small-scale virtual world, whose settings can be
    freely adjusted per users request.
  • Accessibility These virtual worlds also allow
    data to be stored on local servers. Hence there
    is no access problem for a virtual world deployed
    in a local network, as many companies enforce
    strict network access policies.
  • Confidentiality As 3D application server and
    databases are hosted entirely on local machines,
    instead of on Linden Labs servers, there is no
    risk of leaking confidential data when using
    these small virtual worlds.
  • Cost-effective The cost of setting up these open
    source virtual worlds are far less than buying
    lands from Second Life. So these virtual worlds
    are more favorable for education and research

Other Virtual World
  • Who is using OpenSim and Wonderland?
  • IBM released Lotus Sametime 3D last year, which
    is a collaboration product based on OpenSim. It
    targets at large organizations needing
    integration with other Lotus products and
    corporate LDAP directories. Current customers of
    Lotus Sametime 3D includes Northeastern
    University, Northcentral Technical College, and
  • ReactionGrid provides OpenSim hosting and
    maintenance services. It also created tools to
    facilitate region building for users. Current
    customers of ReactionGrid includes Intel,
    Microsoft and the American Cancer Society.
  • The MediaGrid Immersive Education Initiative led
    by Boston University is doing cutting-edge
    experiments in Wonderland for learning purposes.

Other Virtual World
Screenshot of OpenSimulator
Other Virtual World
Screenshot of Wonderland
  • As of today, Second Life is the most popular and
    most commercialized virtual world. It is most
    representative of the status quo of virtual
  • OpenSim has been widely adopted by companies to
    develop virtual world-based communication and
    collaboration tools.
  • Wonderland is more widely adopted for education
  • It is expected that in near future, Second Life,
    OpenSim and Wonderland regions will be
    interconnected, allowing avatars to teleport
    freely among regions hosted under different
  • This breakthrough will transform virtual worlds
    into a Web, where every company or organization
    can host their own virtual world regions.
  • Virtual world client can serve as a web browser
    to direct users surfing within the Web of
    virtual worlds.

  • Franceschi, K., R. M. Lee, et al. (2009).
    "Engaging Group E-Learning in Virtual Worlds."
    Journal of Management Information Systems 26(1)
  • Friedman, D., A. Steed, et al. (2007). Spatial
    social behavior in second life Intelligent
    virtual agents 2007 Springer-Verlag
  • Lester, P. M. and C. M. King (2009). "Analog vs.
    Digital Instruction and Learning Teaching Within
    First and Second Life Environments." Journal of
    Computer-Mediated Communication 14 457-483.
  • Messinger, P. R., E. Stroulia, et al. (2009).
    "Virtual world - past, present, and future New
    directions in social computing." Decision Support
    Systems 47 204-228.
  • Yee, N. (2006A). "The Demographics, Motivations,
    and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively
    Multi-User Online Graphical Environments."
    PRESENCE Teleoperators and Virtual Environments
    15 309-329.
  • Yee, N. (2006B). "Motivations for Play in Online
    Games." CyberPsychology Behavior 9(6).
  • Yee, N. and Bailenson, J. N. (2007). "The Proteus
    Effect The Effect of Transformed
    Self-Representaion on Behavior." Human
    Communication Research 33 271-290.
  • Yee, N., Bailenson, J. N., et al. (2007). "The
    Unbearable Likeness of Being Digital The
    Persistence of Nonverbal Social Norms in Online
    Virtual Environments." The Journal of
    CyberPsychology and Behavior 10 115-121.