An Argument for the “Simple Look” of OpenSim


I keenly read Ener’s posts and I am almost as passionate about virtual worlds but from a slightly differing perspective. They can be a wonderfully immersive media that can increase user engagement particularly in training and education.

In education circles we like to discuss learning styles such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (tactile). There are other models as well and today we recognize that learners often use a combination and that the styles for a learner may change day to day.

The more styles we can intertwine into educational materials and techniques, the greater the chances are that our learners will learn what we are teaching them.

Reading text and looking at illustrations access certain parts of our brain. Writing information relative to what we are learning accesses other parts of the brain (thus the value of written activities). Reading aloud accesses yet different areas as does teaching our newly learned information to others (such as a mentoring program).

With virtual worlds, I believe we engage additional areas of the brain as well as parts of the brain accessed via “standard” learning styles. Virtual worlds allow us to engage with the learner’s imagination and trigger thoughts of touch, smell, sound, the visual, and the kinesthetic (such as a scripted object reacting to the avatar) – the same senses we access in a real life situations. This increases the learner’s engagement, the immersion provided by the imagination, when their avatar is placed into a virtual world.

I contend that we may even engage more deeply with the user because of the simple look that OpenSim presents as contrasted with more sophisticated graphics such as Blender imported into Unity. This simpler look, sometimes referred to as cartoon class in comments to Ener’s blog, forces the user to fill in details and use their imagination to a greater degree.

Playing ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ is something done by millions but I don’t believe it engages the imagination as much as OpenSim can. Think about how Legos engage the imagination, how the unseen movie monster is typically scarier than the one revealed, or playing army or having a tea party when you are little. The imagination lets us fill in what we think the situation calls for.

Happy Halloween and think about how scary the dark can be when our minds are left to wander and wonder.

Ener’s 2011 pumpkin – rather friendly, of course :)


also posted on the subQuark blog

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written by subQuark

October 31st, 2011 at 11:09 pm

9 comments to 'An Argument for the “Simple Look” of OpenSim'

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  1. […] An Argument for the “Simple Look” of OpenSim at i live in science land avatar ramblings from the virtual world…… Source: […]

  2. The cartoon class of illustration and depiction does indeed leave more to the imagination of the viewer and demand a certain ‘input’ which engages and immerses.
    I first became aware of this re. childrens book illustrations, but, of course, Impressionism also shows this. The mind ‘connects the dots’ and in doing so participates in the creative process.

    I am very ‘anti’ having the whole story spoon-fed to me too, I like a bit of enigma …

    soror Nishi

    1 Nov 11 at 5:41 am

  3. I remember the days of the old text adventure games, or of games like Rogue. In these there was no Post Processing, no Polygon counts, no Shadows. Just you imagination.

    I think it is the fact that they engaged the imaginations of the players that they seem like the were the “good” old days, but if you go back and play them the gameplay seems pretty poor by today’s standards.

    What this shows is that engaging the players’ imaginations actually leads to a better experience, and that the experience is remembered more positively.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I like my shiny new polygons and bloom effects, but I feel that the lack of them causes us to remember the games without them in a more positive light.


    1 Nov 11 at 7:09 am

  4. You young whippper-snappers have it easy these days. Besides having to walk 5 miles to school every day. Up hill. Both ways. We played Dungeons & Dragons with just a pencil, some paper and a 6-sided dice.

    I’m agreeing with soror and Paul, here. Today, we have WoW, EVE, Call of Duty and a host of others. The graphics don’t have to be realistic, or Minecraft and Farmville would never have become as popular as they are. What matters is how you answer the question at the end:

    Did you have fun?

    Sarge Misfit

    1 Nov 11 at 9:11 am

  5. there is a group of developers that do text-mud still. the fact is in 3D can have a tree, but in text-base the tree can take on personality and mood. sometimes i wish go to back to text-based.


    1 Nov 11 at 3:09 pm

  6. Actually thanks to your “Sim on a stick”, I can fly my imagination on my computer, making stuff without being connected on virtual worlds and the best thing is not to spent money on uploads. I have to be sincere and in the year I began to play in second life it just help me to develop my own creativity and I am still learning about it. Building is so wonderful and even relaxed but you need to be patient (a lot) to create great things!. May be next time I will introduce Virtual Worlds to my nephew she wans to be a designer.

    Xpontaneus Combustion

    2 Nov 11 at 7:53 pm

  7. very cool Xpontaneus (as is your name) – that’s such a perfect use of it as well as the nice aspect of not worrying about needing to answer any IMs

    and kids learn this so fast, it’s kind of spooky! i was working with a 12 year old that was understanding it faster than i could explain! =)

    thanks for letting me and the community know

    Ener Hax

    2 Nov 11 at 8:05 pm

  8. Perhaps when OpenSim and the Viewers start to allow 4096 x 4096 pixel textures, we will graduate from Cartoon level to a Higher level.

    Lani Global

    5 Nov 11 at 9:10 pm

  9. Great observation!

    I’m 48, but when I was a little girl, round 11ish, there was this park the parents took us to that bordered a beautiful southern lake, and this park had little houses about the same speed as the Santa houses at the mall…and inside each one, there were about a dozen, were life size doll figures portraying fairy tales or children stories – Goldilocks and the bears, the three pigs and wolf, Alice and the huge table, Peter Pan and the kids and Tink, etc. The doors were kept locked (if they even worked, who knows) so the only way to see it was peering through the windows.

    It was my first 3D experience and it fused something in me that ignites to this day. Just peering through the windows from the outside seeing this virtually real scene was so enchanting. I wanted to go in there so bad I actually got in trouble for trying to break in so I could immerse myself more fully. Over the years, they tore those down and left a few for tool sheds, which sucked but for awhile, I never wanted to go anywhere else. Only one house had oversized flowers and butterflies – it was amazing.

    The next time I’d ever see anything like that would be in SL, going to various fantasy sims and feeling that awe and excitement again. It’s not quite the same, obviously, but the perceptions and resulting experience and sensations are coming from the same place.

    That sense of immersion and engagement ignites a certain receptivity to the environment and the retention rate is 100%. I home school my son for this very reason: we lean toward self directed education because when I see what really captures his interests, I see the retention rate of what he picks up is exponentially higher than repeating times tables. I suck corndogs at math, but he’s learned more math building video game mods and worlds than anything I could’ve taught him…because he’s immersed, he’s in this world, this environment, building in sandboxes similar to the opensim/sl platform.

    Can’t overlook that.

    Virtual Clover

    11 Nov 11 at 12:56 pm

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