Living and Learning on

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. 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.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Global Warming on Whyville?

Looks like yesterday Whyville started a global warming center with opportunities to go back in time and study temperatures in Whyville and Earth. My guess is that this is hitting a hot point with Whyvillians because on one BBS post I saw around 140 separate replies by different individuals about whether they were concerned about global warming. The arguments are heating up as some are very very concerned and others aren't concerned at all (the minority from my peripheral readings of the posts).

If anyone is interested in kids' argument and evidence I recommend this for reading. Some make reference to rising or falling numbers of polar bears, to rising water levels, and so on though without actually listing their sources. Fascinating. Can't wait to travel back in time!

Your pixie reporter in Whyville,

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