Session 3- Virtual Economies + Virtual Spaces

27.10.17

Today we had a guest speaker Piera Rasmussen who had completed her MA at Chelsea School of Art in Interior and Spatial design. Piera talked us through her previous projects which were focused on Gender and Identity in Virtual reality. Her Inside the Spyglass project greatly inspired me. She had taken inspiration from Alice and wonderland to create a utopian world. She moved away from the clinical VR headset by making one that looks very surreal and unexpected. Her headset is a multisensory creation as it has moss growing out of it. This itself allows the user to feel completely immersed within the surreal setting. You can touch and smell the moss which makes the experience feel realistic.

This idea really excited me because as a textile artist, my creative process is completely dependent in the sense of touch. I have always thought the clinical VR headsets are very boring and quite intimidating to use. However, Piera’s innovative idea of pushing beyond the classic black goggle, makes me realize the potential of what’s to come in the future. I personally feel Piera’s VR headset is a lot less intimidating to try on, as it looks as though it is an everyday object, welcoming its audience to touch it.

Figure 4. Piera’s Headset ‘Inside the Spy Glass’ (Rasmussen Creative, 2017)

Sylvia Xueni Pan discusses the requirements for the body to make immersive and believable virtual experiences to take place.

Figure 5. (Virtual Futures, 2016)

Virtual Economies

There is not much difference from a virtual economy and a real economy really. The only difference between a virtual economy and a “real” economy is that in virtual economies all goods are virtual. I already had some knowledge about virtual economies because when I was younger I used to play online games which had a running online economy. We also had a discussion about job stimulators. We were shown an example of a virtual reality job stimulator game where the player was working in a restaurant. I thought this was shocking because it made me realize that sooner or later, human beings could possibly be replaced by machines, purely being dependent on technology.

Virtual economies are now all around us, from the games on our smartphones, to bitcoin and even on social media. In developing games, designers have found ways to develop an economy within the game itself. Just like a real-world economy, these virtual economies can drive the game.

What are some of the threats and risks of virtual economies?

There are some risks that some people face where the real life meets the virtual. In 2005, a Chinese man was stabbed to death after selling a powerful sword an ac- quaintance had lent him in the online game Legends of Mir 3. The attacker had first reported the “theft” to police, who claimed there was nothing they could do, and then took matters into his own real-life hands. (BBC, 2005.)

As a result, gamers who do not protect their real-life identity information, including their IP address and gaming account information, have found that their actions in the game follow them home through harassing telephone calls, email, or even physical mail or personal visits.