Orienteering in Virtual Worlds: Getting People Started

I’ve been thinking lately about orienting people in Second Life for the first time (mostly because I’ve had the pleasure of taking a lot of people into this virtual world in the last few months).  There’s just so much to consider.  There’s that all important “first hour” (which can potentially be the “deal breaker” for some) when people form their impressions and set opinions.  I want to make sure that their initation feels interesting, relevant, and not too overwhelming or overly  “techy”.

I’ve also been thinking more about not making assumptions.  Case in point.  I was working with two women yesterday (nurse practitioners) in their mid-50’s who had never been in a virtual world.  I hoped to work with them on a new project where we’ll connect with diabetic patients in the virtual world. They explained that they were “moderately” comfortable with technology but were quite anxious about this “really weird” stuff.  I was prepared for slow-going.  Much to my delight, they both caught on quite quickly.  One of them, who immediately took to navigating, figuring out the camera controls, the concept of an inventory – even to flying – asked me whether or not the avatars had to be fed (she was, afterall, a nutrititonist).  I asked her what prompted that question and she explained that she’d been “playing webkinz” with her 4-year old grand daughter. Webkins!  I love it.  But, in her mind, she’d never been in a virtual world.  Isn’t that interesting?



Filed under Virtual Worlds

5 responses to “Orienteering in Virtual Worlds: Getting People Started

  1. sifowler

    Hi Robin!
    This is very interesting. I wonder what can be done to help people make connections in their minds between their prior experiences and ‘virtual worlds’, but to make those connections BEFORE they enter VW?

    Is it terminology or something that we need to find? What could you have said to this woman beforehand to that she’d have that association between webkins and SL before your session?

    I’m thinking that people’s ‘real world’ three-dimensional experience is the primary point of connection with VW. Maybe there’s language or references to help them see that connection?

    • rheyden

      Good question, Simon. I’m realizing more and more that what we do prior to a new person’s vw experience is critical. That the framing of it really matters. Interestingly, I did ask both of these women if they’d had any prior vw experience and they both said emphatically, “no”. So, in their mind, WebKinz was not a virtual world. So one change I need to make is to be much more specific and list the possible virtual worlds that they might have entered or experienced. Very interested in your idea of coming up with the right language/references to help them make a connection between their real world 3D experience and the vw – tell me more!

  2. sifowler

    I have no idea! I just have a hunch that there must be a way to talk about VW, in fact, all technology, in a way that makes the transition easier for people.

    I had yet another conversation on Friday (replicated a thousand times a year) with an otherwise very smart, insightful, creative and curious person, who is apparently dumbfounded by a particular website technology.

    I’m desperate to find out what causes that and a way to free them from their fear! I think VW, because it’s 3-D, lends itself more easily to parallels in people’s normal life. But I haven’t found a way to talk about it.

  3. Hi Robin! Been catching up on your very excellent blog and this post prompted me to comment. I always start my orientations with a shared screen, namely mine, from within Second Life. This gives people an idea of what it will look like, and seems to reduce the overwhelming stimulation that occurs for some people particularly those with “no previous experience.” I use Adobe Connect because I find that it seems to refresh quickly even with a shared screen. (Some pixelate hopelessly.)
    Thanks for the great info!

    • rheyden

      Hey, Jenn! Great to see you here. What an excellent idea this is. Sort of like an innoculation – but your toe in, before you wade completely into the water. Thanks so much for this.

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