The other day my friend, LuAnn Strine Phillips, posted a link on Facebook to a project she's been working on: a winter safety game created in Second Life. (LuAnn said, "This virtual learning environment is sponsored by the Cooperative Extension through its eXtension Initiative.") Since cold weather safety is important to public works professionals, I visited her site to check it out. I landed in what looked to be a pine forest nestled under a thick blanket of snow. (For those of you in Second Life, you can check it out here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bailey/128/128/23)
There was an abandoned car and information about winter scattered among the trees. I walked over to a tube with a sign directing me to slide down the tube to enter the game:
I slid down the tube by clicking it and found myself in a room welcomed by the abominable snowman!
Because it was not my first time in Second Life, I moved onto the next set of instructions. (But if I had been new, I could have gone through a new user orientation.) Next up was an explanation of the game objective – pick up a few relatives and drive them to a party! And after that was a map of the game site and further instructions:
The game uses a heads up display or HUD to track points that can be earned by touching or collecting objects and answering questions related to safety. So after equipping my HUD, I was ready to begin the game and learn some important winter safety tips. My first stop was at my home in the game where I had to prepare for my trip. There is a lot of safety information to learn through interacting with the objects in this house. There's also a barn in the back with more information related to winter weather safety for animals and livestock.
After completing all the preparation at my "home" I was able to drive off in the car. My first stop was to get gas and have my car checked at the service station down the road:
After that, I needed to make several stops along the way. A few of these were to pick up more items and some were to pick up my relatives. Here's me at one of the stops where I took a few moments to fish and share a few words with one of the local residents. I had been a little worried walking across the ice to his shack, but fortunately the ice was thick, and I didn't fall in. And I did get a fishing pole out of the deal:
Later on driving through the hills, I was so worried about the icy roads, I forgot to stop and pick up my Uncle. Fortunately I came back to get him because he was having some serious problems of his own and really needed my help. I won't put up more photos except for the one of the final destination because I want to encourage everyone to check out the game for themselves. LuAnn did a great job with this project. It looks beautiful, is informative, addresses an important topic, and is more fun than just reading about winter safety on a website. (If you've never visited Second Life, you can join for free here: http://www.secondlife.com – and if you would prefer joining with a guide, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can arrange to meet you there your first time and give you some tips on getting started in a virtual world!)