It would perhaps be a perfect world for organisations like VWN if everyone was in favour of using VR or AR for one purpose or another. Of course, this is not the case, and there is a shrinking majority of the population who feel virtual is bad, is not real, or is just incomprehensible.
Even thought this section of the population is steadily shrinking, and at an increasing pace, that does not mean that the arguments of detractors are silly or stupid. Many include points we all should consider, before blindly embracing VR as the salve to all our problems.
Tactical manipulation of the virtual, feeling its texture, its pressure, temperature and viscosity, this synthetic reality technology, when applied to augmented reality, allows for touchy feely with items that look to be in meatspace, but are in fact pure virtual.
An addiction to be proud of
A gem of an article, written with MUDs in mind, but relevant to any virtual environment: On why they are, quite simply, an addiction to be proud of having.
Book Quotes: Total Addiction
There is always a darker side to the personal total immersion experience of VR, SimStim, and their kin - the addiction side of things.
Starring Edward Furlong (Terminator 2), the premise is that this teen is sent the latest in VR tech through the post ? Brainscan, the ultimate in VR video gaming. Slipping the headset on, he finds himself playing as a murderer. He has to kill another human being, and not leave any witnesses. A four stage game, he completes the first stage, and finds to his horror, the murder really did take place.
China imposes online gaming curbs
Originally news from 26-08-2005, this story is of a landmark case in the evolution of virtual nations. It has long been known that eventually the physical world would see the virtual as a threat. The Chinese are the first to try to curtail it. A new law is being introduced to prohibit more than three hours spent in an online environment.
Civanon is a humourous twist to the issue of addiction to gaming and social VR. It is an alcoholic?s anonymous style tongue-in-cheek civilisation player?s self-help service.
Compulsive gamers 'not addicts'
Ninety per cent of the young people who seek treatment for compulsive computer gaming are not addicted, according to Keith Bakker the founder and head of Europe's first and only clinic to treat gaming addicts.
Computer games drive social ties
An article from the BBC, providing empiric evidence that gaming and virtual worlds foster community colloboration, rather than creating a network of loners.
Despite Popular Belief, Gamers Are Social
A round look at the necessity of being social it takes to be actively engaged in MMOs or social VR, and a clear repudiation from several highly reputable sources of the anti-social image of gaming.
Based on a true story, ?Every Mother's Worst Fear? is the tale of 16-year-old Martha Hoagland. When her boyfriend dumps her, she turns to the internet in despair, and loses herself in chatrooms.
In defence of computer games
As Halo 3 chalks up $130,000,000 in its first 24 hours' trading, this BBC article looks at the ongoing flow of gaming and social VR from niche activity to the new way of life.
British Sky Broadcasting (Sky) is the operator of the UK's largest digital pay television platform. On weeknights they operate Sky Vegas. In September 2007 this service changed to become interactive, computer generated horseracing.
Love at the Prompt
A somewhat dated article now, still relevant, if using outdated examples, of the power of alternate, digital lives over the physical one.
Nation of Fools
A hypothetical situation of a 'nation' of people hooked into VR, and have been that way their whole lives. Every action they do, is done from the virtual, and for them, this article argues, nothing IS virtual.
South Korean dies after games session
A news story from 24-08-2005, featuring a South Korean male who logged in fifty hours straight in a VR gameworld, as the culmination of two weeks solid playing and sleeping before suffering fatal heart failure from sheer exhaustion.
'Addicted' to Warcraft?
The BBC have published an in depth piece following up earlier studies on addiction to the MMO World of Warcraft, examining both sides of the addiction phenomenon.
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Virtual environments sometimes get used as babysitting services by too busy parents. When these children go on the rampage, those same parents usually blame - and sometimes try to sue - the virtual world.
Do It For The Kids
Who do you blame when a seriously disturbed child goes on the rampage? Do you blame the upbringing? Do you blame the long-term social stress? The seething hatred? Or do you blame computer games? This article outlines all sides fairly, and lays the responsibility where it alway was - with the parents.
EverQuest Blamed In Suicide
This article forms a refreshing counter-stance to the hype regarding suicide of a player, one of the much-discussed cases of 2002 - that of Shawn Wooley, who killed himself after playing EverQuest. A connection, or just media Hype? Media Hype.
Germany Declares War on Second Life
A look at the news of early May 2007, and the changes to Second Life levied by the German government, blaming Second Life itself for the actions of a paedophile in their midst.
Second hype or second life?
Social VR finally begin to achieve mainstream respect, as a BBC columnist starts to consider them a serious part of life. Second Life, in this case.
An eminently accessible book, this slimline, 200 page tome uses casual friendly language to describe the view rather contrary to mainstream imagery, that videogames are producing a generation of businesspeople unlike any who have come before. The mindset of the gamer is producing successful business people with a paradigm shift in view to the older generations.
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Natural Senses over Augmented/Artificial
Some claim that the natural five senses are far superiour to anything that could ever be artificially created or recreated; that it will always be possible to tell natural senses from artificial ones.
Action computer games can sharpen eyesight
Empirical research from the University of Rochester in the US has found that playing in fast passed, lightning reaction virtual environments can be very good for your eyes.
Book Quotes: Unreal Reality
When virtual becomes sensorilly indistinguishable from physical, what happens to our understanding of the nature of even, unaugmented, physical reality itself?
Cosmic Rays, Micro-differences, and Virtual Worlds
One of the strangest things you notice with social virtual environments, where you have vast numbers of people coming and going, and using the exact same software to visualise the virtual world, is the sheer number of amazing, unduplicatable-by-anyone-else problems that are encountered.
Game Law: Everybody Conga?
Remember those old movies with the long conga line in them? Well, imagine that the line is a line of gamers. But some of the gamers can't dance. So, no conga for them. They're just watching their friends have fun while dealing with a frustrated desire to dance themselves. That is what it is like for an estimated 20-25% of the population over the age of 17. This is because these potential gamers have one or more physical or cognitive disabilities. Games and VR worlds do not provide for them, so they cannot participate.
Haptics is the study of the sense of touch. Touch has many parts, but the most basic, the most fundamental of all, is that of pressure.
Neuroprosthetics, Brain Emulation and Mind Uploading: The ultimate VR concepts
Neuroprosthetics, brain emulation and mind uploading are together perhaps the most extreme end of the trend towards virtual reality. All three are BMI, or Brain-Machine Interface. BMI is an old field, stretching back over six decades, concerned with direct-connecting the human brain to machines, in order to improve the function of both.
A slide from the presentation Introduction to Virtual Reality which bears repeating independently, when it comes to virtual or augmented senses versus 'natural'.
SimStim is a concept first created in the VR novel Neuromancer, penned in 1984 by William Gibson. It is the third form of alternate realirty. VR is the replacing of all outside stimulae with artificial. AR is the augmenting of natural stimulae with artificial. SimStim is replacing your natural sensory stimulae, with that of another person.
Terminal Error is a 2002 made for TV, low budget film about a self-aware, self perpetuating computer program that slowly takes control of the internet. Fairly clich?, the film still clearly tries to make a point about the inter-networkisation of computers and sensor webs into our lives, coupled with a worst case scenario for AI.
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Damaging Education with Virtual Environments: BarbieGirls
BarbieGirls is quite possibly a very sick and twisted virtual world. It is ironically making use of the power of the interactive medium which comprises virtual reality. It has great power to educate and inform, to engage the participant, with positive feedback and reinforcement.
This book does a pretty good job of smashing the old argument that video games are harmful to children. Instead, it fills the void with statements showing how gaming can teach advanced problem solving, language and cognitive skills, strategic thinking, multitasking, and parallel processing. All of which are skills vital to survival in the increasingly technocratic 21st century.
This book comes out of the growing serious games initiative, and references both television and video gaming as elements of the same popular culture. It argues, with evidence to back it up, that over the past 30 years, popular culture has consistently gotten smarter and more complex, requiring more brainpower to fully understand and interact with it.
How to talk to corporations about games
A simple online game, based on the difficult prospect of convincing an organisation that a serious game or VR environment is ideal for their training needs. Based heavily on actual case studies.
Indusgeeks: Distance Learning through SecondLife
Indusgeeks has built a platform on Second Life that enables students in distance-learning programmes to plug into a simulated environment replicating and enhancing physical life learning processes
Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames is a book written with the goal of showcasing to the non-gaming world, how video games (and by extension / extrapolation, virtual worlds) are a true artistic and serious medium. How they can showcase how both how real and imagined systems work, and they invite players to interact with those systems and form judgements about them.
Real learning in a virtual world
A look at teaching in virtual worlds, particularly Second Life, along with the real benefits such educational methods bring, from Christian Science Monitor.
Video gaming has received a lot of high-publicity bad press. It has also received as much, if not more, low-publicity good press and praise for the good uses of gaming environments with computers. As social virtual worlds are still considered to be video games by many non-users, this bad press invariably knocks onto social VR and VR gameworlds like MUDs, and the large MMOs.
Within the adult VR world Taurius is the Academy of Sign Learning allows two people to carry on a conversation in American Sign Language (ASL), across the internet, teaching those with good hearing, a language of those without.
Virtual Worlds for Learning
A detailed article, originally published in ?Cable in The Classroom? Educational periodical, in August 2004, details in an easy-read format, just the sort of possibilities for education virtual worlds hold in the near future, and how they are likely to ramp up attendance and learning abilities. Note: PDF document, 343kb
This tome is built entirely around the marriage between pleasure and learning. If material brings you pleasure, you are far more likely to retain it. Games being fun, or simulations being intriguing and engaging, actually empower the user to learn from their content.
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Anonymity at its best
An interesting tongue in cheek, short article that set?s out the point of view of detractors against net anonymity in an elegant way.
It's Only A Game
Another well thought out counter-argument to all those who say that virtual environments are oly games. This one comes from the MUD sphere.
Large Image Display: Abstracted Killing
When all your senses are present and fully replicated, you feel embodied in the simulation, and see/feel/hear/smell the enemy charging towards you, is it not surely a trainer for real murder?
Large Image Display: Animatrix: The Second Renaissance: Child in a Pod
This is the final image of ?The Second Renaissance?, before the closing credits. The narrator goddess/AI stroking the outside of a pod in which a young male child lays cocooned in the fetal position, neural jacks covering his body, utterly bald, and with monitoring prosthesis grafted into his head. He floats in a vat of nutritional gel.
This is very much, through and through, a sceptic and downcryer?s book. A 180 page tome of essays that often argue utterly against the use of virtual environments for any purpose whatsoever, and decries them as a force of change.