avatars standing in shallow water in front of a large Blue Pyramid, the unofficial architectural logo of CSULB

Fall ’20 – Week 2

Art Idea #2 – Virtual: World

An interesting thing to notice about Virtual Worlds is that they are worlds!

I’ve been touched in Week 1 by the many feelings you’ve expressed on our BeachBoard Discussion boards about your disappointment in missing “The College Experience.”

One way we are luckier than those who endured the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic is that we have myriad communication tools that they did not: Phones, Text, Chat, FB, IG, Discord, Slack, and yes, Zoom University. All these tools are great. Things would probably be worse without them. But one thing that they all have in common is that they are “pipes” or “wires” or “communication tools”. They connect me at Place A to you at Place B. What they are not is Places. Maybe that’s part of why you find Zoom University so much less satisfying than attending the physical LBSU campus. Why you long for simple things like seeing friends at the mall.

avatars standing in shallow water in front of a large Blue Pyramid, the unofficial architectural logo of CSULB
Artist Misprint Thursday talking with students at virtual CSULB

A Sense of Place

Places we can’t go:

  • Long Beach State campus
  • Parkside Dorms
  • Starbucks
  • The Mall
  • Where else can’t you go??

Places we can go:

  • Animal Crossing
  • Fortnite
  • Minecraft
  • Second Life
  • World of Warcraft
  • What virtual worlds have you visited??

Yes, Virtual Worlds are virtual. For some people this is very lame. For others it is deeply empowering. What I think is interesting about Virtual Worlds like the ones I listed above and many others is that they are Places! Unlike FB, IG, Zoom, BeachBoard, and so many other Communication “Pipes” that connect me at my Place to you at your Place, these Worlds are Places where we can go. Places where we can Physically Virtually meetup and do things together. So… let’s meetup!

Activity: Virtual: World

Pick any Virtual World (MMO or MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game)). Many of these worlds have rules and goals. Some do not. Be sure to pick one that has a place and other avatars for you to interact with, not a PvE or Single-player only world.

You can pick a world that you’ve used before or one that is new to you. Different worlds have different parameters. Some are Free-to-play, some are not. Some run in Web Browsers, some require a Viewer download. Some run on Phones. Pick whatever suits you. A few possibilities are:

In World

The best scenario is to explore some world with another Art 110 classmate. On Wednesday we can meetup in Zoom and share links to Worlds/Locations/Servers in Zoom chat. We can all go off to whatever worlds interest us or will run on the hardware we have.

You can also agree to meetup with any Art 110 classmate(s) at another time. Or you can go to a world and meetup with other friends or just explore and talk to whoever you encounter there. Most worlds have combat free spaces where you can hang out.

Whether it’s playing the game or playing around, the goal is to try to do something with someone in your world. To try to have your Avatar do some of the sorts of things that your “Fleshvatar” can’t do IRL ATM. It might be something as simple as hanging out at a coffee shop and chatting. Or watching the neighbor’s kids. It might be climbing a mountain.

Your Blog Post

  1. Show photos or a video of your Virtual World visit
  2. PLACE: Describe some of the differences between Physical Long Beach State University or the High School or Other School you attended last semester and this semester’s “Zoom University”. How is the physical place different from Zoom U? How are they similar?
  3. PLACE: Describe some of the differences between Animal Crossing, Minecraft, or whatever world you visited, and a non-place online environment like Instagram or Facebook. Do you feel a placefulness of Animal Crossing different than a communication tool like Insgagram? How are they different? How are they similar?
  4. PLACE: Compare a physical place like LBSU, Starbucks, The Mall, to your virtual place in Animal Crossing, Minecraft, etc. How are they similar? How are they different? Does the physical place afford your experiences that the virtual does not? Does the virtual place afford you experiences that the physical does not?
  5. CONCLUSIONS: Has this experience given you any new thoughts on the Idea of Place? Is it possible to find a Place Experience during some degree of Pandemic Isolation?
  6. IDENTITY: This week’s activity and the questions above have all been about the idea of Place. I’m changing the subject for these last two questions. It’s easy to see how Fortnite or World of Warcraft are MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games). But what about Instagram or Facebook? Are they MMORPGs? Why? Or why not?
  7. IDENTITY: What about RL itself? To what degree do you think RL is an MMORPG?
  8. Name your Medium Blog Post: Wk 2 – Activity – Virtual: Worlds
avatars walking on treadmills
Isabella Medici treadmill walking & talking with students at Virtual CSULB


4 responses to “Fall ’20 – Week 2”

  1. Andre T Avatar
    Andre T

    Hey guys, I know I’m not the only avid enthusiast in this class so I propose to anyone who regularly plays VRChat add me and we can hang and get this done together. “RetroZX0” on VRC or RetroZX0#0989 on Discord

    1. Glenn Zucman Avatar

      Rock on, Andre! I’ve never done VRChat – what does it run on, do I download anything, etc…

      1. Jason Hurtado Avatar
        Jason Hurtado

        VR Chat runs on windows computers through the game/app marketplace called “Steam.” The computer running the game needs to be a bit powerful to run smoothly. It can be played regularly on your screen or on a vr headset for the full experience! (It is free!)

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