Virtual worlds are a gateway to connecting people from all across the world. It fosters creativity, social interaction, it breaks barriers and immortalizes things that once were. In today’s world, virtual reality can be used for pretty much anything! This includes having virtual conferences, making movies with virtual actors and sets, training employees on various scenarios in a virtual setting and even teaching a class room full of university students an Introduction to Psychology class, all these are not only possible with virtual reality, but it is happening at this very moment.
In the Wall Street Journal article “Avatar II: The Hospital” the author Stephanie Simon talks about how Laura Greci, a professor at the medical school in University of California, San Diego developed a way to train nurses via second life. This training will enable proper training for nurses, without the liability of harming a patient. It also gives the instructor complete control of the setting and the anomalies they can introduce to make it more challenging for the trainees. Not only is it a training tool, but it can also be a virtual classroom, which is what many Universities in Europe are doing.
Virtual worlds do foster creativity, the very fact is apparent in the article “In Room 100, Its Sid and Nancy All Over Again” which talks about a Second Life players ode to Hotel Chelsea in the virtual world. I was able to visit the Virtual Chelsea Hotel inworld. It shows that whatever is there in real life can be replicated into the world of virtual reality to a great extent and with almost correct precision. Withing SL I’ve had the opportunity to the virtual version of the seven wonders of the world, so I can attest to the fact that creativity in the virtual world is limitless.
There are cons to virtual worlds as well. Man is a social animal, and that has to transpire in the form of human contact and not some animated avatar on the screen. Moreover, privacy issues come into play again, where you don’y know how much information you should put about yourself out in the virtual world. You don’t know if the people your are speaking with are really who they say they are, so trust becomes a scarce thing.
Despite having its setbacks, virtual reality does in fact break down boundaries and can connect people over long distances. It has particular appeal to me because it is a world where you can unleash creativity at no cost and still achieve an end product. I believe that virtual reality is here to stay and to grow, we are only beginning to find practical applications to virtual worlds, in the future I have full confidence that with more enhanced virtual reality simulations, we will be able to do much much more.