Five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark,
Brandy for the parson and bacchy for the clerk,
Laces for the ladies and letters for the spie,
Now watch the wall my darling while the gentlemen go by.
(Rudyard Kipling. The Smugglers Song.)
The virtual world can be used to train people in customer service, managing conflict resolution, science, architecture, medicine and much more.
Probably the most well publicized simulation was created by Ken Hudson of the Loyalist College’s Virtual World Design Centre for the Canadian Border Services Agency. Post 9-11, the agency could no longer send student border guards to the actual border crossing to gain first hand interviewing experience. Due to heightened security concerns students had to role-play interviews within the college environment. The students were struggling with this aspect and the pass rate for students dropped. Instructor Ken Hudson decided to recreate the border crossing in Second Life. The students then ran interview simulations in the virtual world. The result of this role-play interviewing caused a dramatic improvement that could be measured. In 2007 student’s interview skills (without the Second Life simulation) had the average grade of 58%. In 2008, after the use of the simulation, student’s interview skills averaged 86%, showing an improvement of 28%. (See New World Notes for the original story). Check out the following YouTube video (also shown on Wagner James Au’s blog) this provides a sense of the simulation conditions for the students:
Two thoughts intrigue me about this simulation. One is the thought about smugglers attempting to carry illegal goods across so-called ‘real world’ borders. Smuggling has changed from the days featured in the romanticized Rudyard Kipling poem above. An example of this is the ‘Cocaine cast’ story’ where a man tried to smuggle cocaine compressed into a plaster cast for a broken leg.
The second thought revolves around using Second Life to create a virtual border post, intriguing when one of the wonders of Second Life is that it is multi-national and has no border controls… But then, perhaps the new ‘mature’ sims will have controlled border crossings? And then, that begs the question what would a virtual world smuggler smuggle?