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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Ugh - dead fish!

Ick. I went on Whyville today and noticed that the beach looks absolutely disgusting. The water is a deep maroon color and there are now dead fish lying around. I never noticed that before. So I went to check out the red tide thing. Not sure if it's my imagination but I think it got worse and that there's more of one type of plankton that like urea. Bought 50 seedlings, got in my boat, and planted them at an area of relatively high concentration.

Meanwhile, I also went on a major shopping spree since my old parts expired. After having invested in a bunch of new sunscreen at Target today I was tired of being pale-skinned so I when for a tan look but kept a different version of red hair. I've also always wanted to play Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz so purchased a Toto in basket. Not sure what I'm going for with the umbrella and glasses, but I *have* been writing a lot of papers (about Whyville) recently, so maybe it's a studious thing?

Off to Digra soon... Oriahsiri/Debbie