The project workshop was held on August 20th at Roskilde University. At the meeting Sisse Siggaard Jensen gave a short report of recent project activities. She also presented some of the new directions in which the project is heading in this fall. Ph.d. student Ates Gürsimsek related the design process of Metrotopia and went into detail about the different areas of the virtual city, the design ideas, considerations and discussions behind these SL locations. Post Doc Carrie Reinhard reported from her media reception experiments and offered some preliminary analyses based on this extensive data material.
Next, Claus Fischer architect at RUMLIG shared his current work developing a game in Second Life. This work includes an impressive remake of the Copenhagen Central Station in Second Life as the setting for an MMO game that cuts across categories of time, place and reality/dreaming. Claus spoke about how two architectural conceptualizations, “the spirit of place” and “the importance of light/shadow” can inform design work in virtual worlds.
Fredrik Vogel from the animation and games production company, Vogel Film and Media, was invited to report from a Machinima seminar he organized last spring as part of the CPH:PIX filmfestival. Fredrik reflected on the way in which machinima has been dominated by people coming from a background of gaming, subsequently utilizing the technology for making film. Vogel was originally interested in how people, based in more traditional practices of film and animation, might approach the potentials of machinima. He spoke about the meeting of games and films as the meeting of different worlds, one in which the film director very much holds the position as a creative leader (director-driven) and one in which the movie-making is closely tied to the laws of the game, what technically is possible/not possible (i.e. technology-driven). Vogel related how machinima has great potential, for professional filmmakers and animators, as a cost and time efficient way of making live, working storyboards. However, legal ownership issues need to be clarified before professional production companies are able to truly take on machinima.
Tommy Nilson (alias Doctor Asp) from Wonderful Denmark gave a presentation on OpenSim. He explained how Linden Lab in January 2007 released the source code to the SL client, the viewer software. This release set off the development of a number of independent viewers such as GreenLife Emerald, Meerkat, and Hippo. Tommy illustrated these viewers and discussed some of their differences and particular affordances. Following the development of these open source viewers, attempts have been made to also redevelop the server software as open source. OpenSim is one result of these efforts. The server software can be downloaded and set up by anyone, it connects to a joint OpenSim grid, and can be open/closed by firewall as desired. If open, users can teleport seamlessly between different OpenSims running on distributed servers.
Claus Frisenberg Poulsen (alias Claus Uriza), employed with the Danish Bibliographic Center, gave a brief report on his positive personal impressions from the Second Life Community Convention in San Fransisco. Claus took part in the convention to present his work with the Pop Art Lab in Second Life – where new music is streamed 24/7 in four different listening booths and real world musicians perform on stage in Pop Vox, shown on Treet.TV
Workshop participant Ulla Gudnason, working at the language center at the Royal Danish Defense College, spoke about her interest in utilizing the possibilities of SL for giving classes in and immersion experiences with small, lesser taught languages. Ulla is involved in the establishing the first steps towards creating a SL Language Lab as part of the royal defense language education.
The last presenter of the day was Dina Friis Toft, ph.d student with the Virtual Worlds Research Project. She gave a talk on the methodological challenges of doing ethnographic research online. In her fieldwork the categories of public/private are continuously challenged and technical traces and accountability has emerged as central themes of the field.
All in all a very exciting day with diverse and illuminating presentations along with good discussions. Some of us also enjoyed tasty dinner and wine after the seminar where our sharing of virtual world experiences and questions continued.