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Singapore and Virtual Worlds

Earlier this year I reported on a virtual world the Singapore government had created for the upcoming premiere of the Youth Olympics, being held in Singapore this August. In that post I reported on my brief sojourn into this world and described it as a hybrid world: not an MMORPG, but more prescribed activity-based than Twinity and Second Life.

I had gone into this world as preparation for a meeting I would have with the organization in Singapore responsible for its development: the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. Attending the meeting with me was Mikala Hansbøl of the Danish project Serious Games on a Global Market Place. Because of her interest in education, and as the Virtual Worlds Research Group has not written or discussed much the education sector’s interest in and utilization of virtual worlds, we structured this meeting with the IDA to be focused on education-based virtual worlds.

To that end, there were three projects from Singapore who had representatives at this meeting.

For IDA Singapore, Tan showed us more in-depth the virtual world created for the Youth Olympics: Singapore 2010 Odyssey.  Outside of the area I earlier explored, there was an attempt by the developers to create a faux mirror world of Singapore.  Part of their argument for this design was to help prepare the Olympians, their family and friends, and the spectators for what they would experience when in the city and the country.  According to Tan, they also “intend to allow normal everyday non-Olympian users to enjoy, participate and have a feel of the spirit of the Games virtually, allowing those who do not have the opportunity to physically come down to Singapore, to have a peek of some of the landmarks we have here.”

However, it was the hybrid nature of the world that most impressed me.  Beyond the various sporting games incorporated into the world, which could be multiplayer, they had designed flash games that could be played at various parts in the world.  Additionally, certain locations provided the structure for users to go on a quest within the world.  Thus, while the appearance and interface are more akin to Second Life, the activities provided in it mirror a variety of online games, from puzzle games to MMORPGs.  You can learn more about this world from a trailer for the world.

IDA is not only focused on education related projects: they oversee the development of ICT in a variety of sectors.  Within the past several years, the Singapore government has been interested in incentivizing research and development of virtual world technologies, as the government considers this work to be a growth industry.  Both of the educational projects represented in this meeting stem from this increased interest in working with virtual world technologies; as such, their projects are in the development stage.

For ITE, Thang discussed their institution’s interest in developing a world to help educate their students.  The institute’s education is primarily focused on preparing professionals for various technical jobs, such as nurses, designers, and educators.  They are interested in how to use virtual worlds to simulate the types of experiences such professionals have in their careers, so as to prepare their students to cope with such scenarios in the real world.

For Beacon, Dr. Yong discussed their desire to create a hybrid world.  Further along in their planning than ITE, Beacon is hoping to create a closed world that incorporates social spaces for their students to gather, while also designing specific spaces to provide educational material.  The hope is for this world to supplement what is being taught in the classes, and to give the children and their parents spaces to interact with the teachers and the coursework in different, and hopefully interesting, ways.

These projects represent only a sampling of what Singapore is hoping to accomplish by investing in virtual world technologies.  According to Tan, the hope is to make Singapore the Asian center for virtual worlds, which includes both entertainment and more serious ventures, such as education.

If you are interested in contacting any of these projects, then please let me know.  ITE and Beacon would be interested in hearing others experiences designing and/or using virtual worlds for educational purposes.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Virtual Worlds Workshop: Augmenting Reality in the Public Domain – Virtual Worlds Research Project linked to this post on 2010/09/01

    [...] a new mobile augmented reality genre. The day will also cover governmental efforts to incorporate virtual worlds in tourism and education in Singapore, a discussion on the concept of engagement, and future plans for reconstructing aspects of the Sea [...]

  2. Augmenting Reality in the Public Domain (Free workshop) « Mikalas Klumme linked to this post on 2010/09/06

    [...] a new mobile augmented reality genre. The day will also cover governmental efforts to incorporate virtual worlds in tourism and education in Singapore, a discussion on the concept of engagement, and future plans for reconstructing aspects of the Sea [...]

  3. Virtual Worlds – SERIOUSLY « Mikalas Klumme linked to this post on 2010/10/07

    [...] CarrieLynn Reinhard and I went to Singapore in June where we met up with representatives from the InfoComm Development Association and people from two schools working with various initiatives to engage with and construct virtual worlds for both educational [...]

  4. Virtual Worlds from the Other Side of the World: The hybrid virtual worlds of Singapore – Virtual Worlds Research Project linked to this post on 2012/05/02

    [...] presentation contains my initial analysis of the Singapore virtual world Singapore 2010 Odyssey. The analysis focuses on how the virtual world is constructed and positioned [...]

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