Educational and Environmental Elements of Virtual Worlds

So far, (Dizzywood is) commercial-free, kid-safe environs are prime for Shaping Youth to test the use of digital technology to seed knowledge, enable fun to flourish and grow without the preach-n-teach boredom of the schoolyard scene, once it comes out of beta and solidifies core content. For instance, their new ‘garden gazebo’ eco-embedded message has a variety of behavioral benefits that could easily springboard from online to offline outdoors.

Dizzywood is ‘planting’ the concept of collaboration, as kids nourish and tend a garden that grows faster with teamwork…

By rewarding kids with seeds instead of the usual ‘coinage and consumption’ cues, they’re enabling more meaningful content to take root, a prize in itself.

Now…with a digital dose of creativity and open-ended experimentation how about if we take it another step further?

Shaping Youth » Seeding Virtual Worlds: Kids’ Going Green in Dizzywood Gazebo

Go check out Amy’s post about educational/conservation elements within Virtual Worlds!!!  There’s a lot lot lot more than what I attached to this.

I’m currently really chewing on the interweaving of such elements into (entertainment) brand based virtual worlds– and how to do it without being irreverent, contrived, or slapped on to an environment with a play pattern that may not be as organic to such ideals.

Thoughts anyone? 

Do entertainment-based brands with particular play patterns need to have such things?  Or should we let kids do what they came to do without inundating them with side plots?  Or is it our duty as youth-based-biz to role model and cultivate the future?  Or is there no right answer, and you do as your company’s goals & intentions set forth?

Can you have everything and still manage high rates of success & organic play?

…have you seen any instances of educational/conservation-based objectives done well, awesome, so-so, meh… and still effective/successful on all levels?

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  1. April 5, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Great questions Izzy and I’m so happy that this is being discussed here and at Shaping Youth.

    Games have been used to teach for centuries, all the way from chess and Go to Civ III in history classes. There’s a lot of educational research that shows that all people (especially young people) learn while at “play.” Educational theorists like Lev Vygotsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Vygotsky) were big into the idea of play being avenue for learning.

    The skill in this is making the play central and the learning embedded in the game, whether it’s working in the classroom on a science activity or in a virtual world where kids are “playing” together at the garden gazebo. This is where I think vw developers should turn to good educators to help construct these activities/quests. If they can find educators who are also kids writers, that’d be an added bonus. I just wonder if there any folks like this out there? Hmm . . .

  2. April 10, 2008 at 5:28 am

    Izzy, I just left this comment on Liam’s blog, so I’ll echo it here with my two cents and address your questions above in a sec…

    Re: Virtual Worlds 2008…Wish I could’ve cloned myself to be in two places at once, since I was at CCFC at the time and discussing similar notions with Sara Grimes (Gamine Expedition) and other academic folks…trying to weigh the pros/cons of content in virtual worlds that still tend to hang on pop culture oohs & ahhs or commodification in RL environs.

    Know it’s going to get even more profoundly corp./$$ driven as virtual worlds team with gamer/ad models to embed sales into the platforms, much like the new in-game advertising partnership with Double Fusion and Habbo Hotel…

    “Utilizing their extensive sales experience in 2D and 3D environments, Double Fusion will work with advertisers from the entertainment industry, retail, fashion and sports arenas to create relevant and interactive brand campaigns.”

    So if they’re snaggin’ two and a half million eyeballs a month and rackin’ up more consumerism just for drill, I’d say there’s a STRONG need for media literacy ‘in-world’ and creative opps for healthier content…and I sure would like to take the lead in trying to embed some of those cues in a place like Dizzywood or Zookadoo in living lab style…Wanna help? I could use sharp like-minded thinkers familiar with the platforms…We should all do an ‘oovoo’ conference video chat and brainstorm this summer or meet up at the ‘mashup’ in S.F. before YPulse?! What d’ya think?”

    whew…long winded I’ll post the answers to your other questions above in a pingback in a sec, as I’m writing about the Habbo bit right now…Back in a bit…A.

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