The SLENZ Update – No 104, June 24, 2009


The Virtual World challenges

facing mental health research

The challenges health professionals face in using virtual worlds have more to do with the commercial cost of developing serious games or health purpose virtual worlds rather than with the quality of the environments being delivered over the internet or through off-the-shelf games,  according to  Dr Andrew Campbell, an Australian researcher  in Cyberpsychology.

In a wide-ranging interview with  Lowell Cremorne, of  The Metaverse Journal, the director of the Prometheus Research Team at the University of Sydney,  said that in addition to this, research, looking at how  immersive environments could be used to tackle problems  in health, behaviour and education, was  facing a health professional vs tech industry challenge in trying to effectively harness the ideas for scientifically-based delivery of health interventions.

“In short,” Campbell (pictured left) said, “the health professionals need to learn more about the tech industry and vice versa. Once this bridge is finally built, I believe we will be entering a new error of technology consumerism – games for wellbeing and ICT for personal health management.”Campbell, Dr Andrew

Campbell’s primary job is an academic researcher and teacher in the field of Psychology, particularly Cyberpsychology, which is the study of how technology is impacting human behaviour, both in good and bad ways. Secondly, he is a general practice psychologist who specialises in child and adolescent mental health and behavioural problems. His clinical work is focused on treating children with ADD/ADHD, anxiety and depression, conduct problems, as well as parental counselling and family therapy.

His fascinating interview with Cremorne covers gaming and violence and addiction and  the often-hidden benefits of  video games – “parents themselves do not know anything about the games their children are playing” .

Based on his experience he is dismissive of the anecdotal direct causative link between the regular playing of violent games and violent real-life behaviour.

“Playing a violent game is no more likely to trigger someone’s violent behaviour than eating your favourite food is going to motivate you to become a chef,” he told Cremorne.

Conversely a  number of studies of gaming, he said, had shown wonderful results through helping people to ameliorate either behaviour or, in some cases, the management of pain.

This is only a very limited taste of the full interview which you should read  here.

The SLENZ Update – No 103, June 24, 2009


‘Machinimas’ show the benefits,

comfort in learning  virtually

It’s often difficult for an outsider – especially one with little experience in virtual technology –  to get a real impression of what happens in an education environment in Second Life and just what the benefits can be.

As part of the on-going SLENZ Project, Midwifery Pilot lead educator Sarah Stewart (SL: Petal Stransky) and Foundation Learning Pilot lead educator Merle Lemon (SL: Briarmelle Quintessa) have attempted to show  those benefits  with the recent release of  two machinimas, which are worth looking at.

The first, Te Wahi Whanau 2 ( the second video from the Midwifery Pilot team) demonstrates  the benefits both in Second Life and Real Life of building  and using an architect-designed “ideal”  Birthing Centre like that  on the SLENZ island of Kowhai.

Uploaded to YouTube by “Debdavis5” (Dr Deborah Davis, principal lecturer in Midwifery at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, New Zealand)  the machinima displays the build  of “Te Wahi Whanau: The Birth Place” by Aaron Griffiths (SL: Isa Goodman) .   “The Birth Place” is used in the Bachelor of Midwifery programme at Otago  and also aims to inform Second Life residents about the importance of space/place in facilitating physiological birth. The machinima is also on the SLENZ Project website here.

The second video,  Bridging Education: Interview skills @ SLENZ,   by Merle Lemon, of the Manukau Institute of Technology, is somewhat different in that it is designed specifically to show Foundation Learning  tutors why  their students will benefit from the use of Second Life to improve their interview skills.

The video, which is also available at the SLENZ Project website,  illustrates the difference between a real life practise interview situation and a Second Life interview situation.