Category Archives: Other Worlds

The Great Gatsby: virtually redefining educational outreach

Explore TGGThose of us involved with and immersed in virtual worlds are very familiar with the power and opportunities they offer for educational purposes.

In January and February 2015, this will again be demonstrated in a unique way as literature, live theatre and a virtual world combine to present theatre goers and school children with the opportunity to not only witness the unfolding of one of the great stories from American literature – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby – but to actually immerse themselves in the story itself due to a new an unique collaborative partnership between the Tacoma Little Theatre (TLT), in Tacoma, Washington state, and the folk at Seanchai Library.

From on January 23rd, 2015 through until  February 8th, TLT will be presenting Simon Levy’s stage adaptation of The Great Gatsby, directed by Dale Westgaard, to adult audiences and daytime audiences from local schools.

Coinciding with the play, through their extensive facilities on Kitely, the Seanchai Library will be offering audiences and schools attending performances with the opportunity to explore the world presented by the novel from the comfort of their own home or from within the classroom.

Explore Gatsby will run alongside TLT's production of 's stage adaptation of the novel, giving patrons the opportunity to explore F. Scott Fitzgerald's world in greater detail

Explore Gatsby will run alongside TLT’s production of Simon Levy’s stage adaptation of the novel, giving TLT patrons and schools  with the opportunity to explore F. Scott Fitzgerald’s world in greater detail

Explore the Great Gatsby Online, the début production in Seanchai Library’s EXPLORE the Stories Behind the Art series, will open its doors on January 14th, 2015. It will offer visitors the opportunity to visit key locations from the novel and play, and in doing so learn more about the era in which the story is set, explore the novel itself, the novel, and the theatre in which the play is being performed.

On offer within Seanchai Library’s virtual environments will be a reproduction of the fictional West Egg, where the story’s narrator, Nick Carraway rents a small holiday guest house, only to find himself living next door to the enigmatic Jay Gatsby, giver of lavish summer parties. Both Carraway’s little holiday house and Gatsby’s mansion will be open to explore.

Also presented with the Explore Gatsby facilities will be a portion of East Egg, where Daisy Buschanan, the subject of Gatsby’s desires, lives in opulence with her husband Tom. Here, behind the Buchanan mansion’s façade, will reside a reproduction of the Tacoma Little Theatre itself, offering the opportunity for people to discover more about the theatre itself, which is among the oldest community theatres in the United States, and the oldest on the U.S. west coast, with a rich heritage going back to 1918.

And, of course, there will be the opportunity to visit the so-called “Valley of Ashes”, the industrial dumping ground so pivotal to the unfolding story, which lies between the fictional East and West Egg and the beating heart of New York City.

These various locations will serve as venues for a range of live events which both support TLT’s  production of The Great Gatsby and which also encourage visitors to further immerse themselves in literature, the stage and more; there will be readings and performances from the novel, interactive elements, within the various settings will provide information on a broad range of subjects, including information on the 1920s and the social issues people living then faced, the characters from the novel, etc.

Explore Gatsby will essentially be an educational study guide brought to three dimensional life. Through a special portal currently being developed by Seanchai Library, visitors will be able to learn how to download and use a viewer and operate an avatar, and then connect to Explore Gatsby in Kitely.

Tacoma Little Theatre will feature in Explore Gatsby, allowing people to discovery more about this historic community theatre

Tacoma Little Theatre will feature in Explore Gatsby, allowing people to discover more about this historic community theatre

Of special note with the project is the fact TLT present daytime performances of the plays they stage for local schools to attend. Thus, through their Explore Gatsby partnership with Seanchai Library TLT is presented with a dramatic – no pun intended – new way to engage with teachers, educators and school children in an immersive manner which links the performance of the play directly with classroom learning opportunities. The same also goes for TLT’s patrons, who can take a performance of The Great Gatsby home with them and them delve into Gatsby’s world through the Seanchai Library’s virtual recreations and events.

As noted above, Explore Gatsby will be opening its doors on Wednesday, January 14th, 2015, with in-world events and activities commencing on Friday, January 16th. Everyone involved in virtual worlds is extended a warm invitation to pop along and join in with planned activities as they take place – a programme calendar will be available nearer the time, and I’ll also be presenting it through these pages.

I’ve been privileged to be associated with Seanchai Library for a while now, and as a part of this association, I will be covering Explore Gatsby and the EXPLORE the Stories Behind the Art series as it develops. I’ll be kicking-off things in due course with a behind-the-scenes look at preparations for the début production.

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The Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds 2015 workshop

Moses

The US Army’s Military Open Simulator Enterprise Strategy (MOSES) and AvaCon have announced the first Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds (FCVW) workshop, which will take place in a specially built virtual conference centre on Friday, March 6th and Saturday March 7th, 2015.

The workshop will be an active experience, with on-line exhibits and presentations provided in an interactive manner. Workshop participants are encouraged to engage and interact with the presenters, and the exhibits will range from cultural training material in a mock village to scientific ethical dilemmas in a city landscape.

The press release for the workshop notes that:

Virtual world technology has matured significantly and rapidly over the past eight years to the point where hundreds of people are able to simultaneously participate in an on-line event. The workshop is open to military and civilian personnel, including the public. The conference will be held entirely within an Open Simulator virtual environment, and reservations will be free for attendees.

The workshop will be a multi-track event, featuring keynote speakers and break-out sessions, and the FCVW and conference organisers are inviting proposals to be a speaker, presenter, or performer in one of the following tracks:

  • The Alternative User Interfaces track 
  • The Metacognition
  • Military Applications track
  • Security, Privacy and Identity track

In addition, the Knowledge Transfer track seeks public sector participants for a panel entitled Public Service Education in Virtual Worlds: Past, Present, and Future, which will discuss public service education uses for virtual world learning simulations as well as will feature panelists’ views on public service virtual world education projects from the past, present, and future. Participants in this discussion will be able to showcase relevant Open Simulator virtual world learning simulations via OAR and IAR uploads to be coordinated with the workshop organisers.

Full details on the above tracks, including information on areas of interest applicable to each of them, can be found in the workshop Call for Proposals page of the official website. Proposals must be received by the organisers by Monday, January 5th, 2015.

About the FCVW

The Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds (FCVW) supports individuals and organisations from government (federal, state, local, and international), academia, and corporate sesectors to improve government collaboration through the use of virtual worlds, enrich collaborative online experiences, explore technologies that may enhance telework, and foster cross-agency collaboration.

About MOSES

The Military Open Simulator Enterprise Strategy (MOSES) is operated by the operated by the US Army’s Simulation & Training Technology Center (STTC), a part of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Human Research and Engineering Directorate. It is a coalition of military, industry, and academic partners who share a common interest in the advancement of virtual world technology for simulation based training and education. The MOSES Project seeks to address issues surrounding current game based virtual environment training systems in the two key areas of scalability and flexibility, and create a practical and deployable virtual simulation-based training system capable of providing a learner with a means to test skills in an accreditable manner. http://militarymetaverse.org/

About Avacon

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

Rock-paper-scissors at HiFi, with thanks to SL’s Strachan Ofarrel!

HF-logoDan Hope over at High Fidelity has provided  a light-hearted blog post on using the Leap Motion gesture device with the High Fidelity Alpha.

The blog post includes a video showing Chris Collins and Ozam Serim in-world in High Fidelity playing a game of rock-paper-scissors. The intention is to provide something of an update on integrating Leap Motion with High Fidelity.

Both Chris and Ozan’s avatars have intentionally-oversized hands, which although they look silly / awkward, help emphasise the  dexterity available in the High Fidelity avatar. Not only can avatars mimic user’s gestures, they can mimic  individual finger movements as well (something Dan has shown previously in still images).

Dan also points out the work to integrate Leap Motion hasn’t been done internally, but has  been a contribution from CtrlAltDavid – better known in Second Life as Strachan Ofarrel (aka Dave Rowe), the man behind the CtrlAltStudio viewer. As such, Dan points to it being an example of the High Fidelity Worklist being put to good use – although I say it’s more a demonstration of  Dave’s work in getting new technology into virtual environments :).

A lot of people have been fiddling with Leap Motion – including fixing it to the front of an Oculus Rift headset (as noted in the HiFi blog post) in order to make better use of it in immersive environments.Having it fixed to an Oculus, makes it easier for the Leap Motion to capture gestures – all you need to do is hold your hands up in your approximate field-of-view, rather than having to worry about where the Leap is on your desk.

Mounting the Leap motion to the front of Oculus Rift headsets is seen as one way to more accurately translate hand movements and gestures into a virtual environment. Perhaps so - but a lot of people remain unconvinced with gesture devices as they are today

Mounting the Leap motion to the front of Oculus Rift headsets is seen as one way to more accurately translate hand movements and gestures into a virtual environment. Perhaps so – but a lot of people remain unconvinced about using gesture devices as we have them today

Away from the ubiquitous Oculus Rift, Simon Linden did some initial experiments with Leap Motion with Second Life in early 2013, and Drax also tried it out with some basic gesture integration using GameWAVE software, however the lack of accuracy with the earlier Leap Motion devices didn’t easily lend their use to the platform, which is why more recent attempts at integration didn’t really get off the ground. However, Leap Motion have been working to improve things.

That said, not everyone is convinced as to the suitability of such gesture devices when compared to more tactile input systems such as haptic gloves, which have the benefit of providing levels of feedback on things (so when you pick a cube up in-world, you can “feel” it between your fingers, for example). Leap certainly appears to suffer from some lack of accuracy  – but it is apparently getting better.

Given a choice, I’d probably go the haptic glove + gesture route, just because it does seem more practical and assured when it comes to direct interactions. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see how experiments like this are progressing, particularly given the Lab’s own attempts to make the abstraction layer for input devices as open as possible on their next generation platform, in order to embrace devices such as the Leap Motion.

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2014 Opensimulator Community Conference: tune-in

A fascinating Gource visualisation posted by nebadon2025 charting the growth of the OpenSimulator project by code commits from core developers up until the time of the 2014 conference

Saturday, November 8th, and Sunday, November 9th mark the 2014 OpenSimulator Community Conference, which is being jointly run by AvaCon and the Overte Foundation. The weekend promises to be packed with talks, presentations, workshops and more; and while in-world registrations have sold out, it is not too late to register for the livestream broadcasts of the conference events.

The full programme can be found on the conference website, however, the keynote events comprise:

Saturday, November 8th, 07:30 SLT – OpenSimulator Developer Panel: featuring: Mic Bowman, Planning Committee, Intel Labs; Michael Cerqoni; Justin Clark-Casey, Overte Foundation; James Hughes, Founder, BlueWall Information Technologies, LLC; Oren Hurvitz, Co-Founder and VP R&D of Kitely; Crista Lopes, Overte Foundation and the University of California, Irvine; and Melanie Milland, Planning Committee, Avination. Together they will discuss  the future of the OpenSimulator platform, covering a range of issues including: the future of the Hypergrid, content licensing and permissions, scalability, project maturity, and more.

Saturday, November 8th, Noon SLT – Philip Rosedale: “How will we build an open platform for VR over the internet?”  a presentation exploring the future of the Metaverse and the challenges that lie ahead.

Sunday, November 9th, 07:30 SLT – Dr. Steve LaValle: “Virtual Reality. How real should it be?” Although VR has been researched for decades, many new challenges arise because of the ever-changing technology and the rising demand for new kinds of VR content.  This talk will highlight some of the ongoing technical challenges, including game development, user interfaces, perceptual psychology, and accurate head tracking.

The OSCC conference centre from the inaugrual 2013 conference

The OSCC conference centre from the inaugural 2013 conference

The conference website also lists all of the speakers attending the event, who will be participating in the keynote events and in the various conference tracks which will be running throughout the weekend:

  • The Business & Enterprise track will feature sessions that cover a broad range of uses related to doing business in and with OpenSimulator, such as those by grid hosts, third-party developers, private entrepreneurs, in-world and enterprise businesses, as well as corporations and organizations using OpenSimulator for marketing, fundraising, product research, focus groups, and more.
  • The Content & Community Track will feature sessions about all of the wonderful things that happen in-world. Building and content creation includes large-scale immersive art installations, ballet, theatre, performance art, machinima, literary arts, clothing designs, virtual fashions, architecture, music performances and other cultural expressions.  There are also communities for nearly every interest, including role-playing groups, science fiction communities, virtual towns and interest groups, historical explorations, religious and spiritual communities, book clubs, and so much more.
  • The Developers & Open Source track will cover the technical side of OpenSimulator, encompassing servers, viewers, external components, grid architecture, development, administration – anything that is necessary for the installation, operation and use of an OpenSimulator system.
  • The Research and Education Track will explore the ways in which OpenSimulator has become a platform for computationally understanding complex problems, characterizing personal interactions, and conveying information. This track seeks presentations regarding OpenSimulator use towards research applications in computer science, engineering, data visualization, ethnography, psychology, and economics. It will additionally feature sessions that cover a broad range of uses related to teaching and learning in and with OpenSimulator.
  • The Learning Lab will provide conference attendees the opportunity to explore and practice their virtual world skills, share their best OpenSimulator strategies, and experiment and discover diverse ways to use OpenSimulator to support creativity, knowledge production and self-expression. If you are a gamer or game enthusiast, this is the track for you! The Learning Lab features interactive sessions where attendees get to practice and apply skills hands-on, either in design or to play a game.

All of the event tracks are colour-code within the main programme guide, and their respective pages on the conference website include their livestream feeds for those who are watching events.

OSCC-6There will also be a number of social events taking pace during the conference and, for those of a daring disposition, the OpenMeta Quest: “Your mission, should you be brave enough to accept it, is to find 12 hexagon-shaped game tokens across 7 sims while matching your MetaKnowledge for prizes. Look for the Adventure Hippo to begin your journey.”

For those who have registered to attend the conference in-world, don’t forget you can find your way there via the log-in information page. When doing so, do not that the organisers recommend not using the OSCC viewer which was made available for the inaugural conference in 2013. Singularity is the recommended viewer for this year’s conference.

As well as the conference venue, the OSCC Grid includes a number of Expo Zone regions, featuring conference sponsors and community crowdfunder exhibits; a  Shopping Centre region; exhibits created by speakers in the Content & Community, Research & Education, and Learning Lab tracks.

All told, this packed weekend should be informative, fun and educational.

2014 banner

About the Organisers

The Overte Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.  In the future, it will also act to promote and support both OpenSimulator and the wider open-source 3D virtual environment ecosystem.

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

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