Several of my friends just can’t believe that I get to play in Second Life for Uni and on the surface it probably looks like its all fun and games, so far I have been laughing off their incredulity but it does beg the question – what educational value does Second Life have for me? Instinctively I know that it has increased the speed in which I have grasped a way of life from 3 centuries past but how?
Firstly, being a very visual media it suits me – I am a visual learner. My method of study is to make a diagram out of everything; then it’s in my head for ever, so the process of mapping out the gardens has set it in stone in my brain – not just aesthetically but in a mechanical or logisitcal sense also. There are reasons behind why buildings and structures are located where they are and these decisions where dictated by various facets of 18thC life; from the technology of the time to social mores all wrapped up in Enlightenment ideals.
The project has also made me more observant and better at scrutinising visual evidence. Looking for suitable textures or details when creating reproductions has made me notice things that I probably wouldn’t have before. For example the types of table and benches in the supper boxes and that they used table cloths. That much of the gardens was facade; a visual deception made with painted canvas and board – in a similar way that I have built my gardens. Some is just facade and some is interactive.
Making some parts interactive have also made me think about the mechanics or logistics of running the gardens. How did they keep so many people entertained, occupied or happy? How did they deal with the English weather? Lots to think about.
And finally even the technology of SL itself has helped. When you buy a parcel of land in SL you are allowed a certain amount of objects called prims. If you want more prims you must pay more, so keeping prims down is crucial when building a large project. Each thing you create is made of of shapes – prims- the more detailed you make it, the more prims you use. Its just like juggling a word count in an assignment. Making decisions about what is important to the project and allowing mulitple prims or what can be facaded – mentioned or represented but not explored in detail.