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July 14, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Design School embraces online parallel existence

The 3D online virtual world Second Life is being used by Victoria’s Design students in their courses.

Second Life is a digital world that is “imagined and created by its residents.” Since Second Life opened to the public in 2003, millions of people have become inhabitants of the virtual community.

Digital Media Design students are encouraged to use Second Life in their course work. Second Life has been used and researched by fourth year students as part of the compulsory Design Led Futures course.

Current PhD candidate Pete Rive said that design students must have an awareness of virtual worlds like Second Life.

“As the Internet becomes more and more immersive, designers will be required to contribute design sensibilities to these worlds, extending interactivity and aesthetics into a 3D multi-sensory virtual environment,” he said.

Rive said the Gartner Technology Group has predicted that by 2011, 80 per cent of all Internet users, or 1.63 billion people will have a presence in a virtual world such as Second Life.

“Unlike most massively multiplayer online games, Second Life is almost wholly constructed by the so called ‘residents’ and so presents a significant opportunity and challenge for design.”

However, some students have expressed some reservations about the use of Second Life and its relevance to their courses.

The School of Design, which incorporates the Digital Media Design and Industrial Design programmes, is committed to being an “initiator of change.”

Head of School Professor Simon Fraser emphasises on the School’s website the opportunities presented to design students by “new forms of remote real-time collaboration in a global context and new forms of design research and design exploration.”

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