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Multi-User Virtual Environments

Learning Objectives
• Define multi-user virtual environments (MUVE) (e.g. Second Life) and provide examples.

Multi-user Virtual Environments (known as MUVEs) allow users to immerse themselves in a computer-based world where they can interact with other online users.

Everyone has dreams of flying. When you were growing up, you may have invented a fantasy world, played international spy, or pretended you were on an African safari.

Today's social technology provides a place for people to create virtual worlds where they can interact with others who share their interests. However keep in mind that many of these virtual worlds are not designed for children.

Second Life

Second Life (SL) is an online community with many of the characteristics of online gaming and simulations. Participants design an avatar including a body and clothing.

Then, avatars interact with others as they navigate through a virtual world. Communication takes place through chat, instant messaging, email, exchanges, postcards, rating systems, forums, and groups. However the cool part of a virtual world is the ability to walk, run, and fly.

Participants also create objects and build worlds. Each location has coordinates that can be accessed through a web browser that then launches the Second Life application.

The popularity of Second Life peaked around 2010. However ALA and many libraries still maintain a virtual presence.

ala second life

Try It!
Go to ALA Island on Facebook. Read about some of the many ways Second Life is used in libraries.

Second Life Experiences

bird thingMUVE users can explore ancient civilizations, gothic castles, or fantasy worlds. These places can be springboards to fiction writing, sociology studies, and historical re-enactments. However keep in mind that these worlds are only as good as the builders. Just because a group creates a virtual pyramid doesn't mean that it's authentic.

Just like an other information sources, it's important to consider the authority and compare the experience with other environments. Librarians are sometimes involved with Second Life and are working to build libraries and incorporate primary source documents. For instance Seanchai celebrates Celtic traditions through storytelling.

Explore more examples at SLURL.


Minecraft is currently a popular MUVE for young people.

This MUVE can be downloaded as software, played as an app, or played in a web browser. In addition to exploring worlds, the community has gaming features.

Many libraries have Minecraft workshops, clubs, and programs for youth.

Try It!
Watch the Official Minecraft Trailer from YouTube.
Why do you think this is so popular with youth?


MUVE standards for Multi-User Virtual Environment.

Some professional organizations such as ALA and libraries have a presence in MUVEs.

Second Life and Minecraft are examples of MUVEs. Some MUVEs overlap contain gaming elements.


| eduscapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Contact Us | 2014 Annette Lamb (Adapted from earlier s401 materials)

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