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Second Life Mine Simulation Receives an Emmy Nomination

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the virtual-black-lung dept.

Education 65

An anonymous reader writes "The Virtual Mine, an interactive simulation set in the virtual world of Second Life designed to examine the effects of mountaintop coal mining, has been nominated for an Emmy Award for new approaches to news and documentary programming. From the article: 'The Virtual Mine allows visitors to take a closer look at the challenges of balancing the environment, power demands, and economic interests by inviting them to take part in a story as it unfolds through a series of three games. While it was created with educators and students in mind, the games can be played in groups or by individuals alike.'"

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65 comments

I would have been more impressed... (4, Funny)

DataDiddler (1994180) | about 3 years ago | (#36826144)

... if they used Minecraft.

Coal Minecraft (1)

Aeyan (979644) | about 3 years ago | (#36826938)

Yes, that would have been a hoot for the Emmy board. *sssSSHHH* "...My CAT 5230!"

Re:I would have been more impressed... (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | about 3 years ago | (#36842774)

for some reason i came here thinking it was Minecraft. I bet a few others did as well.

Finally... (2)

shoptroll (544006) | about 3 years ago | (#36826188)

...someone did something remotely interesting/useful with Second Life. Congrats to them.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826240)

Unleash the flying penises!

Re:Finally... (1)

thunderclap (972782) | about 3 years ago | (#36829532)

Actually the correct usage is 'Unleash the flying penii' although some Latin purists would insist it's penes. And before you saying, I know, and I get the joke. I was there when it happened and she deserved it too.

Re:Finally... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 3 years ago | (#36831558)

Everybody claims to have been there and seen it. :-) I was there, but arrived late, during the middle of the penises. I still don't know how the heck it happened, stupid venue owners must have not been careful enough with permissions or group membership. Setting the region/estate no build and no script would have prevented the attack.

Re:Finally... (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | about 3 years ago | (#36842784)

If everyone who claims they where there actually was, then we may need to rewrite some basic science texts

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826828)

As a non-profit state society for CPA's, we have been regularly running CPE Events and webcasting them out from Second Life (in fact one is going on right now). A lot cheaper than renting a conference/class room with the same information being presented the same way, via power point (embedded in SL). We have also had multiple speakers present via Second Life with solid attendance and audience feedback.

Why does that need SL? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 3 years ago | (#36826884)

I know IBM got all excited about Second Life for the same reason, but really, what is the benefit of this over, say, Skype?

Granted, I'm happy you've gone with something which is nominally open source, but I use Skype only as an example. Why do you need an entire 3D world to share your 2D slides and chat?

Re:Why does that need SL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36827034)

It creates a different dynamic, adds a more interesting element to very, very, very dry content and some members seem to enjoy it as much if not more than conventional CPE conferences. We've also added some interactive aspects to the conferences in Second Life. We also had a virtual convention where vendors set up a booth, complete with books (which when clicked linked to amazon or the vendors website), links, products, brochures (which linked to pdf files) etc. This allowed people to virtually walk around and gather/speak with vendors and gain the same amount of information had they been physically present. I would imagine (my own speculation here) that people were able to get more information from the vendors since they could walk right up, click the links, get the pdf and not have to worry about getting a sales pitch unless they typed and asked for one. I think it would be quite difficult to recreate the latter dynamic in Skype.

Re:Why does that need SL? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 3 years ago | (#36831364)

It... adds a more interesting element to very, very, very dry content...

Maybe the problem is the content? If your presentation is boring, seeing it on a little virtual projection screen in a 3D virtual world which is then projected to my monitor is not going to make it interesting. The only way I can possibly see that being more interesting is if I ignore the presentation to look at peoples' avatars, or walk out of the room and explore, both of which I could do just as easily by opening another tab in the browser.

On the other hand, if your presentation is interesting, I will endure watching it in a dozen ten-minute 240p YouTube clips.

We've also added some interactive aspects to the conferences in Second Life. We also had a virtual convention where vendors set up a booth, complete with books (which when clicked linked to amazon or the vendors website), links, products, brochures (which linked to pdf files) etc. This allowed people to virtually walk around and gather/speak with vendors...

I'm still not seeing the advantage of a 3D world here over a vendors page with links. Maybe it's that you can actually speak with the vendors -- so, add a live chat option -- though it seems like a major selling point is not having to talk to them:

...people were able to get more information from the vendors since they could walk right up, click the links, get the pdf and not have to worry about getting a sales pitch unless they typed and asked for one.

And I'd probably get even more information by scrolling down that hypothetical 'vendors' page, middle-clicking anything interesting, then ctrl+pgdown through all those new tabs, rather than having to walk up to a virtual booth.

About the only way I see this being at all useful is if it was a game development conference -- maybe you have some mini playable version of your game inside SL. But if you're going to port your game to a platform like that just for a tradeshow-like demo, maybe a WebGL port would be a better investment in the long term.

I think it would be quite difficult to recreate the latter dynamic in Skype.

True. Skype was an example.

I guess my point is that this mining simulation is exactly the sort of thing that would make me excited about Second Life, except there are so few of them that I'm not sure I care enough to download the client. I like the idea of a generic virtual world client, but I'm not convinced Second Life is it, especially given its centralized nature. By contrast, I have to imagine similar things are going to start springing up with WebGL, and there, it's as simple as clicking on a link -- no downloads, no registration -- and presumably easier to just start hosting.

But in the mean time, Second Life has been used less as a generic virtual world client, and more as a generic conferencing client, which just baffles me. Kind of feels like Microsoft Bob. I'm perfectly fine clicking on a link or an icon to get that PDF -- I don't feel particularly enriched by clicking on a virtual pamphlet on a virtual vendor booth in a virtual trade show.

Re:Why does that need SL? (1)

thunderclap (972782) | about 3 years ago | (#36829548)

You can't have pixel sex on Skype. And while 'Why do you need an entire 3D world to share your 2D slides and chat?' is a valid question; ask yourself this. What world are you standing in now? A 3d one. So why would you need to share your slides and chat here? That answer is just as valid there with out getting your genitals felt by a random TSA agent.

Re:Why does that need SL? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 3 years ago | (#36831320)

What world are you standing in now? A 3d one. So why would you need to share your slides and chat here?

In other words, why would I use anything other than the Internet?

When I was working, I found that there was a much broader range of interaction, something I doubt SL can match. If we're all in the office, and we have an idea, we can go draw on a whiteboard, use pencil and paper, talk about it, or take a break and play Halo. Or I have a question about the code, I can ask a coworker, peek over their shoulder at what they're doing. Or "hallway usability tests" -- grab someone walking past, say "Hey, does this look right?" and let them play with whatever I've been working on.

Or, sometimes, even pair programming.

These are all things which are possible to do over the Internet, but would be less efficient overall. By contrast, does SL do any of these things well?

The other possible advantage is that in-person communication is much higher-bandwidth -- there's a lot of nuance you don't necessarily pick up in text or over the phone. Even for dry, technical stuff, I haven't really noticed how, but I've definitely noticed that two dev teams had trouble communicating minor design details or understanding what the other team was doing for months, then one member of one team flew in to visit with the other team, and suddenly we had communication.

But again, does that really happen with SL? I'd argue Skype is better for that, if anything -- no, you can't have pixel sex on it, but you do have webcams.

The only other advantage to the real world is that we're better at interacting with it, but trying to recreate that in the computer Just Because strikes me as a throwback to Microsoft Bob. I don't need to see the slides on a virtual projector so I can turn around and ogle everyone's avatar. Just stream it to my monitor as a 2D video stream and be done with it.

Re:Why does that need SL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36862520)

You sound like the ceo of international business machines in the 40s.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36827336)

So what you are saying is that when the Swedish Secretary of State's avatar was levitating in his underwear at the opening of Sweden's embassy in Second Life it was not remotely interesting/useful? :-(

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36831612)

Don't worry, at the end of the mine there's a penis.

slashdotted already? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#36826218)

They should have simulated their server load on Second Life, as well...

Re:slashdotted already? (1)

ozbird (127571) | about 3 years ago | (#36828842)

The Balrog had too many prims in it.

We'll see more of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826242)

As individuals and corporations begin to take up a greater presence in immersive 3D online virtual worlds such as Second Life. Simulations such as this show the great potential for environments like SL, and usage is only bound to increase from here on out.

Take note, folks: this is where things are going. Best to get on board now.

Re:We'll see more of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826366)

And I suppose you think a self-replicating plastic 3D molder is the future of our economy.

Re:We'll see more of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826606)

Is this a joke? Troll? Time Traveler from 2004? Or are you actually retarded?

Re:We'll see more of this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826780)

Probably both.

Re:We'll see more of this (1)

djdanlib (732853) | about 3 years ago | (#36827358)

There were four options.

Re:We'll see more of this (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 3 years ago | (#36827456)

For some reason I heard that in Patrick Stewart's voice. "There were FOUR options!"

Re:We'll see more of this (1)

djdanlib (732853) | about 3 years ago | (#36827500)

Form an away team! Number one, you have the bridge.

What About Destroying Townships? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 3 years ago | (#36826268)

Do any of the simulations let you decide how to rip apart the township where you're mining [thisamericanlife.org] ?

You know like send out two different letters to townspeople [post-gazette.com] in order to play them against the local township that's seeking to put regulations on your drilling? Maybe imply that if the people who hold mineral rights don't get a huge chunk of cash from your business they can sue the township board?

Maybe refuse to meet with the township [patch.com] and just turn their own people against each other just so you can drill without local permission?

Because after reading about Mount Pleasant in Pennsylvania, I really have to wonder where someone gets that particular skill to be such a ruthless asshole.

Re:What About Destroying Townships? (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | about 3 years ago | (#36826308)

Because after reading about Mount Pleasant in Pennsylvania, I really have to wonder where someone gets that particular skill to be such a ruthless asshole.

Business school.

Re:What About Destroying Townships? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 3 years ago | (#36826458)

or Law school.

Re:What About Destroying Townships? (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 3 years ago | (#36827174)

To be that big of a bastard you need to leave law school and get into politics for a few years then go into business.

Re:What About Destroying Townships? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826490)

First of all, very interesting read and clips.

What I wonder though; how long were you waiting for with your stories on hand to seize the right /. story in order to post a story about mining exploitation?

I mean, the topic here is a DOCUMENTARY in Second Live. A different paradigm in delivering information/knowledge. Instead of mining, it could have been about natural soil erosion, the mating habits of the iguana, or how the many 40-year-olds live in their parents basement.

Sometimes some characters that frequent /. just have this massive chip on their shoulder.

Once Again I've Been Foiled (3, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 3 years ago | (#36826616)

Ya got me. It's true. On my desk right now are newspaper clippings and recorded VHS tapes about mining exploitation. I have a doctorate in the ethics of mining from a semi-reputable online academy. Basically my life consists of this: I wake up and log onto Slashdot and try to offer informative posts and pretend like I'm really a software developer. Usually Toxic West Virginia [youtube.com] is playing in another browser window. I sit and wait and wait until anything mildly related to mining is posted and then I get a huge rager and my hands start to shake. It's almost too much for my fingers to kiss the keyboard with my sweet sweet dissent against the big bad evil. It's a long running ruse that was about to pay off until you meddling anonymous cowards caught me in the act.

I live solely for the moment that something barely intersects with mining on Slashdot. Mining forums? That's for chumps. I spread Rock's word on the very website that is rife with unbelievers.

Either that's the case OR -- and stay with me here -- I heard the very recent This American Life on NPR, got online to read up on it myself and somehow recalled that brief investigation when I read this in the article:

It was created to to educate, explore, and examine our nation’s struggle with mountain top removal coal mines, coal fired power production, and alternative energies ...

And I thought I might relay this very recent dispute to the readers.

That last possibility is just far too absurd though.

I apologize for trying to remind everyone about the present and ongoing human factor in mining -- even non-mountain top destroying mining.

Re:Once Again I've Been Foiled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826692)

I sit and wait and wait until anything mildly related to mining is posted and then I get a huge rager and my hands start to shake.

That's exactly what I suspected. Thanks for clearing it up. Maybe with some luck we'll get a story about Linux kernels or a new shell short method this month here on /.

That last possibility is just far too absurd though.

It is, when someone digs up some pretty specific links within 12 mins of a story being posted. Perhaps you're a much faster and efficient being than most of us.

Good for you.

Re:Once Again I've Been Foiled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36827206)

It is, when someone digs up some pretty specific links within 12 mins of a story being posted. Perhaps you're a much faster and efficient being than most of us.

Good for you.

Man, if it took me 12 minutes to use Google to look up something I had heard recently and post it, I'd consider retirement and maybe even handing in my driver's license if my reaction time was that slow.

Re:Once Again I've Been Foiled (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 3 years ago | (#36827586)

It is, when someone digs up some pretty specific links within 12 mins of a story being posted. Perhaps you're a much faster and efficient being than most of us.

Good for you.

Three links in 12 minutes? That's not exactly setting a world record....

For all you know this might be a topic of interest so he didn't have to look hard to find them.

Re:Once Again I've Been Foiled (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 3 years ago | (#36826838)

epic. lol. must. stop. laughing. am. choking on. lunch................ .

Re:Once Again I've Been Foiled (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 3 years ago | (#36827604)

I thought I knew sarcasm, I really did, but wow... do you give classes?

Re:Once Again I've Been Foiled (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 3 years ago | (#36827816)

Maybe in Second Life?

Re:What About Destroying Townships? (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 3 years ago | (#36826658)

That's not all. People in the valleys that get filled in have to move. People in West Virginia tend not to have a lot of money for relocating. Sometimes they move in with relatives.

The Clean Water Act has some things to say about poisoning the streams at the bottom of the valleys, but it happens anyway.

Legal recourse is theoretically possible, but Massey Coal's CEO spent $3 million on one judicial race.

Re:What About Destroying Townships? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 3 years ago | (#36827274)

That's not all. People in the valleys that get filled in have to move.

Sorry, just got a cross-flash of Arthur Dent laying down in front of a bulldozer coupled with Ford Prefect's rant about British constantly droning on about the obvious...

Re:What About Destroying Townships? (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 3 years ago | (#36827956)

That reminds me of that time that a elite group of people managed to manipulate the media into such a place where it polarized the populace into two different groups that were, at their core, basically the same people with the same core. This elite group of people then went on to do as they please, further enriching themselves at the cost of said populace.

Re:What About Destroying Townships? (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 3 years ago | (#36827962)

Bah. "Basically the same people with the same core goals and ideals."

Great job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826278)

There's still no way you could get me to step foot in that creepy place.

virtual mine home including video (4, Informative)

slshwtw (1903272) | about 3 years ago | (#36826342)

The virtual mine homepage is here [deepdownfilm.org] .

In the video (spoiler alert!), after players accomplish the three stages of the challenge (extracting coal, 'conserving energy' by turning off electric devices in town (including stoplights??), and constructing alternative energy devices, they go to the town square for a celebratory country ho-down. No joke.

Re:virtual mine home including video (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 3 years ago | (#36830062)

There's one thing Minecraft could really use - country ho-downs.

Second Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826348)

You mean it wasn't just a fad?

Take that, Ebert (1)

Zerth (26112) | about 3 years ago | (#36826504)

A video game got nominated for an Emmy. Say it isn't an art form now.

Er, vocode it....

Crap.

Mines? (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | about 3 years ago | (#36826576)

Am I the only one who thought "landmines" when reading the title?

Re:Mines? (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 3 years ago | (#36826636)

No. I thought the same thing as well. My only thought along those lines was how could land mines disfigure the avatars any more than the users already do?

Re:Mines? (1)

fedos (150319) | about 3 years ago | (#36826744)

I thought it was a miming simulation.

Second life? (1)

MoldySpore (1280634) | about 3 years ago | (#36826966)

You mean there are still people who play that who aren't 50+ year old house wives? Since when? I seem to remember reading not too long ago how the average SL user only stays logged in for a very short period of time, something like 5-10 minutes.

Re:Second life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36827242)

I seem to remember reading not too long ago how the average SL user only stays logged in for a very short period of time, something like 5-10 minutes.

Last thing I remember reading about SL was the high percentage of users who do nothing but virtual sex in SL....

Re:Second life? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 3 years ago | (#36827914)

Having just hit my 5th year in SL yesterday, what we call a "Rezday" I really ought to respond.

It's not 50+ year old women....it's 25-35 year old women. :-) They're probably the biggest subgroup of users now, and drive the SL economy, and everyone knows it.

The report you saw probably dealt with the amount of time a new user stays after first logging in, the retention rate is low, in part because SL is very complex and there's not really any handholding quest givers like WoW has, so newbies are overwhelmed. If they're lucky, they'll run into a friendly oldbie who can give them pointers, or have come in with the help of a friend. If they make it over what some of us call "The Hump" then they tend to have long sessions, probably averaging and hour and a half to two hours. But the real heavy users can probably doing the equivalent of "serious but not hardcore" WoW hours.

Re:Second life? (1)

Zebai (979227) | about 3 years ago | (#36830054)

It might also have something to do with having crap for gfx that would have been subpar even 10 years ago. If they want to be even remotely serious about gaining new audience they should invest in a graphics engine upgrade. I can forgive sloppy graphics if it has great gameplay, and even sloppy gameplay if it has great graphics, but having the worst of both and it will go no where.

New Features (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about 3 years ago | (#36831048)

Actually they are about to release 3d model import as a new feature, along with improved lighting and shadows, so yes, they are upgrading the graphics.

Re:New Features (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 3 years ago | (#36834072)

Lighting and shadows are already in the client, have been for a while. Mesh is coming "soon", and you can test it out with a Mesh enabled viewer with the Aditi test grid.

Re:Second life? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 3 years ago | (#36831520)

It might also have something to do with having crap for gfx that would have been subpar even 10 years ago.

That's hyperbole, since one of the biggest selling games of 2001 was Diablo II, #1 was the original version of the Sims, neither of which match SL graphically. When was the last time you used SL anyway? You do know it looks the way it does because EVERYTHING is dynamic and can change at a moments notice, there's no "fixed assets" like in a traditinal game. It isn't like Tribes or something where shotgun wielding Power Armor clad grunt #1 looks exactly like shotgun wielding power armor wearing grunt #221

I can forgive sloppy graphics if it has great gameplay, and even sloppy gameplay if it has great graphics, but having the worst of both and it will go no where.

SL isn't a game, it's a virtual sandbox environment. It shouldn't be compared to games, at all

So where are my Golden Globes for SimCity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36826972)

Seriously? Second Life is bad ass for doing something that a fuckton of other simulation games have done ... far better ... for 20 years?

My suggestions for two alternate exhibits (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36827076)

How about "The Incredibly Dangerous Process of Drift-Mining: Strip-Mining's More Eco-Friendly Cousin" and "Daily Life Without The Electricity that Coal Fire Plants Produce"?

Re:My suggestions for two alternate exhibits (1)

giannaborgnine (1623029) | about 3 years ago | (#36830000)

Actually those issues are addressed in the simulation. There is a HUD that has a health, happiness, and power meter. You start my destroying a mountain for the coal, and once you see the effect then power goes up, but health and happiness go down. So then you are prompted to conserve electricity by basically turning off everything in the town. By doing that healthy goes up, power is kinda neutral, and happiness remains down. Obviously, living without power isn't possible so you are prompted to explore and assemble alternate energy sources. Once you have them up and running things balance out. Obviously this is slightly oversimplified, but it gives educators and even individual visitors an opportunity to take a closer look at these issues first hand and hopefully it will facilitate some discussions and possibly even change.

This is shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36827210)

I just looked at the video on the official site. No way does this deserve an Emmy.

Re:This is shit (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 3 years ago | (#36828366)

It was just nominated. That doesn't mean it's going to get one.

yeah... that's me... (1)

qqqqarl (678615) | about 3 years ago | (#36828532)

as the software engineer behind the project, i'd be happy to answer any nerd-questions you might have. for example - the code was around 7000 lines of LSL.

Re:yeah... that's me... (1)

qqqqarl (678615) | about 3 years ago | (#36837890)

slashdot - where dumb jokes are widly upvoted and genuinely pertinent information sits on the bottom.

Virtual Copy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36829358)

The Museum of Science and Industry has been doing this for years, this is just a virtual spin. Be a man, see the real thing.

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