Second Life & Sansar in the NEWS – Week 52-2

Second Life™ made it in the news this week.  PSFK ran an article titled: A Look Into a More Social Virtual Reality With the Makers of Second Life. This is an interview with Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab CEO, and Senior Director of Global Communications Peter Gray. While referencing Second Life most of the information is about Project Sansar.

Collage of all the wireframe images on the new Project Sansar login page, made by Ernst Dommershuijzen.

Collage of all the wireframe images on the new Project Sansar login page, made by Ernst Dommershuijzen

Both Ebbe and Peter think the social interaction in VR will be huge. While that is debatable, they have a lot of company. 

Ido Lechner, the writer, says, “PC games have traditionally had a heightened learning curve for older audiences who have a hard time navigating worlds with mouse and keyboard, but Project Sansar looks to be an all-inclusive medium thanks to a more instinctual set of controls.

I keep hearing that controlling the avatar will be more intuitive. Of all the claims for virtual worlds (VW) that plan to use Virtual Reality (VR) this user interface being ‘more intuitive’  thing is where I have the least confidence. Think about it.

Someone that has never been in a VW sits down in front of a computer. We know VR is going to be primarily dependent on desktop computing power. Few of us imagine anyone that hasn’t used VR will be willing to invest in a room or VR treadmill to use with VR.

So, how do you move forward? Is there a Kinect, LEAP Motion, SimSteering system (warning language), Saitek X-55 Rhino, a Hand Controller like Razer Hydra, a Mocap Suit, or some other input device. The Razer Hydra video give a good presentation of how complicated it is. I don’t see this as highly intuitive.

I do believe the moving in 3D space thing is more intuitive. But, I’m not sure that offsets all the equipment setup.

Ebbe and Peter are saying that users at all levels of 3D modeling will be supported. OK, but there are people that can’t build in real life… so, is this really going to be easier? I have serious doubts. I do know that a number of people came from the Myst-Uru community where building for that world required accomplishing a moon landing before building. Those people that had no hope of learning to build for Uru Live are running business in SL selling things they build. So, the Lab may be able to improve their interface and accomplish the goal. I just have doubts as to how easy and all inclusive it may be.

We learn from Peter that  professor Jeremy Bailenson, Department of Communication at Stanford, is having a major effect on the Lab and its Project Sansar design. The professor’s research has focused on human representation and immersive virtual reality. This research is changing how people think about education, empathy, behavior, and health.

You can find more about this professor’s research online.

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