“A Totally Different World”: Playing and Learning in Multi-User Virtual Environments


Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings
Tampere University Press, June, 2002
Volume: 1
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666

This study examines children’s perceptions of their experiences in two science-oriented multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs), River City and Whyville. Sixth-grade students were asked how they would rate and compare different features of these environments. The children rated River City as providing greater educational benefits but preferred communicating with real people in Whyville as opposed to River City’s computer-based agents. They felt more integrated into the community in Whyville, where they enjoyed equal participation with other members, than as guests to the virtual town of River City. Finally, children rated their enjoyment at customizing their unique Whyville avatars higher than when selecting a pre-constructed avatar in River City; however, they rated both MUVEs highly when asked about seeing their avatars onscreen.