Archive for December, 2009

21 Books for Claire

December 2, 2009

Raicle turned 21 in December. She is 2b3d’s principal virtual world designer. Raicle is an avid reader and often gets ideas about design from what she reads, so she told me recently. This thought seemed inspirational to me, so I started to make a list of books that might inspire virtual world design. Here are 10 of the 21 to get the ball rolling …. Raicle is half way through the list.

1.  A story of Roman Planning and Construction. MacAulay, David. (1983). City: Houghton Mifflin. This is the primer for thinking about how to build a virtual world. MacAulay always delights with simplicity, much like the simple view of an open island ready to be terraformed. Drop down a prim, the vision begins.

2.  Understanding Comics. The Invisible Art. McCloud, Scott. (1994).  Harper Perennial. As an avatar walks through a virtual world, they encounter spaces with buildings, streets and perhaps some activities. The comic is a simple engagement model: the set up, the obstacle, and the resolution. In three easy steps, your virtual world design can deliver a poignant story.

3.  A Whole New Mind. Why right-brainers will rule the Future. Pink, Dan.(2005). New York. Penguin Group. Come on, this is a no brainer really. It’s all about design, we’ve got function down and have outsourced it, so how do we think different about virtual worlds? Meeting places, please — that is so last century, but it’s still a money maker. Nevertheless, let’s really figure out how to immerse people in content they’ve never seen before.

4.  Envisioning Information. Tufte, Edward R. (1990). Connecticut. Graphics Press and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Tufte, Edward R. (2001). Connecticut. Graphics Press. Tufte is a classic. He offers visualization for everyman, and when we’re talking business, validating results and metrics, you have to look at how to display quantitative information as well.

5.  Creating your world, the official guide to advanced content creation for Second Life. Weber, Aimee. (2008). Indianapolis, IN. Wiley Publishing, Inc. Weber and co-authors have created a book to enable you to use Second Life, the content creator genius virtual world. You can get up and running creating your own virtual world in a few short days. The libraries are enormous, so what you can’t build, you buy.

6. Learning in 3D. O’Driscoll, Tony and Kapp, Karl (2010). Learning archtypes, a framework model you can work with, exemplars in virtual worlds, a bookstore review done through blogs and wikis. If this book doesn’t hit the key points about why you’re being left behind designing and developing in 3D virtual worlds, then you like lining up everyone in a row in a lecture, having them turn to page 38 with one single sound. The revolution has begun.

7. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Marquez.  I couldn’t resist. Everyone says read Neal Stephenson’s SnowCrash. Okay, we’ve got the Metaverse down. Have you ever thought of what it would be like to see ice for the first time? This experience is more unique in the physical world than in the virtual world. How do we engage all five senses to create a similar impact? And there will be a time you say, I remember the first time I saw virtual ice and felt it.

8.  Optimal Experience – Psychological Studies of Flow in Consciousness (1988). Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Chuck Hamilton at IBM reminded me recently of this book. It was the turning point in my own doctoral studies back in the day. Bottom line is people are intrinsically motivated when they see themselves involved directly and they see that their involvement is instrumental to the outcomes.

9.  Digital Game Based Learning. Marc Prenskey. (2000). It’s hard to believe Marc’s book is a decade old. Let’s see, Pong, PacMan, Mario Brothers, Asheron’s Call, Everquest, World of Warcraft, Second Life … er, I think Marc is a visionary. The fundamentals are still in this book, and you could read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point or you could simply read the tipping point book, it’s the reason we’re designing seriously across the enterprise, the federal government and the institutions of higher learning. Why wouldn’t we play in 3D?

10.  Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain. Begley, Sharon. (2007). How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves. Neuroplasticity, get used to that word. If you flood your visual cortex long enough with information, physical things start to occur. Take pause on what that means for 3D learning in virtual worlds, or 3D work in virtual collaborative corporations.

The Game is On! Help me get to 21 books. What 11 books would inspire you as a designer in virtual worlds and why?