The book that isn’t, I just drafted and sent for internal academic/publisher review a book on virtual places. So it may be modified, it may not get finally published (not sure what happens, I signed a contract) but I cannot resist listing some of the issues it tries to cover, hope they are issues for you too..
Introduction: Rethinking Virtual Places
Why design virtual places? For distant places hard to reach, discarded, incomplete or contested. Constraints and affordances can be added that reveals some of the potential experience of dangerous places with none or little of the risk. While it is possible that one day the development of overpowering virtual sensations and vivid imagery may compel us to lose interest in the real world, or be manipulated by others (a favorite theme of Hollywood writers), such days are far in the future. Of more immediate concern are the risks to social skills, to health, and to our ability to concentrate and to pay attention for long periods of time.
Chapter 1 explores the early development of virtual worlds, and game-worlds, especially why virtual museums are not virtual museums.
Chapter 2: philosophy of place applied to real places then applied to virtual places, I was wrong, most of the other early philosophies of real-world places must be stretched or distorted to address the design and experience of virtual places.
Chapter 3: representation-orientated and essentialist nature of major architectural theories and why they don’t really help us with virtual places. Architects may well disagree.
Chapter 4: Neuroscience and psychology gave us many concepts we use to evaluate virtual places, but they changed their minds and we did not notice. Also some discussion on embodiment, Second Life, and Hubert Dreyfus.
Chapter 5: Mechanics and place, how do they (and procedural learning and gamification) help us with the design of virtual places?
Chapter 6: How do we relate place, culture and learning in virtual environments?
Chapter 7: Culture and place-I argue that a deeper notion of culture and place is missing from not just cultural VR environments but from virtual places in general. More discussion on Second Life, the Internet, and Hubert Dreyfus. I re-critique definitions of virtual worlds, and modify my own earlier requirements/criteria for virtual worlds.
Chapter 8: The role and affect of place-making devices, models and platforms. The second half debates (and disagrees with) the Convergent Culture directions of Henry Jenkins. I also discuss some worrying challenges for VR and head mounted displays in the near future.
Chapter 9: How has notions of presence helped or hinder evaluation of virtual places? Could we make the design of virtual places more evaluation-friendly?
I was asked to write 90,000 words, I baulked, and then spent weeks trying to keep it to 90,000 words (a touch more actually). Perhaps I tried to cover too many topics again but at least the references should interest people!