This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.
This post has two parts: a description of an experience using a MUVE and ways libraries could use MUVEs.
For this post, I have interviewed my husband, Daniel, who has lots and lots of experience gaming and playing MUVEs.
A MUVE is a “Multi-Universe Virtual Environment,” where you can interact with a virtual world and other people inside of the virtual world.
Fun Fact: Daniel works for a local theatre which is currently running a show called The Nether, in which characters interact in a virtual reality (think The Matrix) MUVE called “The Hideaway.”
Daniel’s first experience with a MUVE was with the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or MMO) Anarchy Online way back between 1999 and 2000, when he was around 9-10 years old. This is long before World of Warcraft came out, which is usually people’s first introduction to MMOs. Anarchy Online came out around when EverQuest was the ultimate MMO.
Daniel’s dad (my father-in-law) had bought a one-month subscription for him and his sons to it because he found the idea of MMOs intriguing and there weren’t many things like it. When the game first released, it was massively buggy and basically unplayable. When Daniel’s dad bought it, most of the bugs had been worked out and it was finally starting to gain its virtual land legs.
This was Daniel’s first time where he actually got to make and design a character in a game. Most games in those days just had standard basic characters (basic wizard, basic warrior, standard military dude, etc.), but in Anarchy, Daniel really had control over the character, and he liked that he had more flexibility with it. He could choose to play a male character, or he could choose to make a female character if he wanted to.
Anarchy Online is a futuristic game, so Daniel also had the option to play an alien race if he wanted to. He spent a long time flipping through the different options he could play until he finally decided on one: Liadon, a female solitus (human). On the next screen, he also had a large choice as to what profession he wanted his character could be. Each profession had a description, so Daniel spent time reading through each one until he settled on the Adventurer profession, which sounded similar to a Ranger. Daniel figured he could get an animal companion based on the image of the sample Adventurer, but he later found out Adventurers could become animals.
With character creation complete, Liadon (Daniel’s character) was dropped into a futuristic junk yard. There was no quest, there were no windows that popped up and told him what to do, he was just dropped in. He just had to figure out what to do.
He noticed some robots that were walking around, and as he walked around, he found a little green oasis that had a little shop with a shopkeeper. Daniel spent a long time playing with the buttons and options to figure out what he could do. It was really, really, really confusing for him. Eventually, he learned how to attack things, and after he would kill things, he would collect loot to sell to the shopkeeper in return for better gear.
Later on, Daniel came in contact with another player named “Romulan2,” another solitus, who had been playing the game for some time before Daniel joined. He just sat down with Daniel for hours talking about the game, how to do different things, and then he showed him how to get to a big city. If it wasn’t for Romulan2, Daniel thinks he probably would have quit the game because he was so lost.
This was the first time Daniel was ever in an open world that was absolutely gigantic where you can go anywhere, do anything, and it was weird for him not to have a purpose or someone telling him what to do. He had to make his own adventure, and it was the sense of exploration that kept him going.
The game became more enjoyable when he started meeting other people, making connections with them, and started exploring things together.
Daniel became “pretty obsessed” with the game, and he played it almost every day for three years. Even to this day, he still logs on to play (and he has even shown me the ropes).
Daniel and his brothers eventually started fighting over who got to play the game, because back then, they didn’t have a computer and account for everyone.
Daniel has formed really good friendships and connections with the people in the game. Looking back on some of the times that he’s played, he says they’re some of his most fond memories of gaming.
MUVEs are great ways for kids and people who have social issues to communicate and work together in a safe environment. It allows people to step into a world where you can be yourself without really showing who you are.
MUVEs can be a new way to learn for a generation who has grown up with video games.
Libraries could use MUVEs in several different ways.
One way would include either being a game designer or employing them. Libraries could build MUVEs that center around books and the exploration of books. Rather than just reading a book, they could really walk around in and explore the world that the book takes place in.
Another idea could be that libraries could use MUVEs as teaching tools. Whether it’s teaching students to work together or about a specific topic, a MUVE could be built so students can explore those topics and work together.
A third idea is to form a group inside an existing MUVE, such as a book group, or just a group that goes around exploring together. People could either come into the library to play together, or they could play from home. Librarians could make themselves available in the MUVEs to be moderators and also leaders.
There are lots of ways libraries could incorporate MUVEs, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m currently reading book called Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age by Kurt Squire. I would highly recommend it.