Living and Learning on Whyville.net

Multiplayer games and worlds have increased in popularity with millions of players now spending dozens of hours or more online each week. We know surprisingly little about what younger players do in virtual worlds like Teen Second Life, Habbo Hotel, Club Penguin, Virtual Laguna Beach, There and others. Discussions about their promises and problems have been initiated among researchers, parents, developers, and policy makers. The purpose of this blog is to make our current research publicly available about one such teen virtual world called Whyville and to solicit feedback and initiate discussion.

Whyville.net currently has over 2 million registered players ages 8-16. In Whyville, teens are encouraged to play casual science games in order to earn a virtual salary in ‘clams’, which they can spend on buying and designing parts for their avatars, projectiles to throw at other users, and other goods. The general consensus among Whyvillians (the citizens of the virtual community of Whyville) is that earning a good salary and thus procuring a large number of clams to spend on face parts or other goods is essential for fully participating in the Whyville. Like other virtual worlds, hundreds of cheat sites have been developed outside of Whyville to reveal shortcuts and introduce new players to virtual customs.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, UCLA researcher Yasmin Kafai and her team study many different aspects of Whyville including science learning, avatar creation and virtual identity, the role of cheating, and flirting and dating through Whyville.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dark Skin in Whyville- new popularity?


Hey, so this is my first attempt at a post on cool news and ponderings about Whyville happenings. We recently finished a paper on race and avatar design in Whvyille, and I can't help but notice some neat looks that kids have designed. I've recently noticed a lot more cornrows on dark skinned faces on Whyville, like this one above. A new trend?

*Plus*, I have to say that my "rich brown head" on Whyville (one of only two face parts that I sell) is very popular, or at least seems to be. I think I've sold over 20 of those heads in the past month. Is this a sign, as some kids have hoped for in their Whyville newspaper writings, that peach skin might not be as dominant as before? I'm trying to get a cool looking matching skin body approved too, but no luck so far.

1 comment:

Deborah Fields said...

A small addition: I now have two heads being sold on Whyville and they're both doing very well. A darker "rich brown head" and a lighter "cream brown head". My body hasn't been passed yet ...