The development of the project will go through 5 fundamental stage:
By direct contact and observation, researchers uncover the rituals, habits, motivations, and stories of Amiais and its inhabitants, visitors, and stakeholders. Also, researchers unveil what they find playful by engaging people in conversations and activities and how they might establish playful interactions with others and with objects. Participant observation, interviews, and focus groups are the principal methodologies to gather data.
REFLECTION & CREATIVITY
This stage comprises the analysis, interpretation, discussion, and consolidation of all the information gathered and knowledge acquired during ethnographic immersion. Also, creative sessions with the inhabitants, stakeholders, and visitors are fostered to brainstorm and envision scenarios and narratives for the metaverse experiences in Amiais village in Second Life.
Based on these scenarios and narratives, the immersive experience in the metaverse Second Life is drawn, and the technical specifications for its implementation (required avatars, notecards, and other interactive structures to pursue different immersive challenges) are identified. Along with those, the functional and technical requirements to recreate Amiais village in the Second Life metaverse (specific sims and grids, 3D territory modulation, and others) are defined.
PARTICIPATORY DESIGN & AGILE DEVELOPMENT
Stage three will begin with the recreation of Amiais village in the Second Life metaverse previously drafted. The development of elements, characters, and objects allows the implementation of immersive playful narratives. By programming the different levels, layers, and types of interaction, those immersive playful experiences will allow exploring Amiais’ cultural heritage.
Meanwhile, the design and development team will be formed, namely through selecting the testers to participate in the immersive experiences in Second Life. A strategy to bring together Participatory Design and Agile Development methodologies will be assembled and tested. It must consider the need to provide the necessary training and adapt the overly abstract representations of traditional design and development tools and processes to ensure a high degree and quality of participation.
Case studies with different user groups (children, young people, seniors, intergenerational, foreigners, etc.) are carried out for testing and evaluating the developed Immersive Playful Experiences in Second Life, namely by accessing the social interactions around the narratives and gameplay. According to the results of this phase, the narrative plots, architecture, functionalities, interaction design, content, etc., of the Second Life immersive experiences will be tuned.
The data collected through this stage allows developing an insight on: a) how individual characteristics – such as age, background, culture, digital literacy, goals, roles, etc., – may impact the way people interact in/with an immersive playful experience in a metaverse; b) what is the potential of playful immersive experiences in metaverses to explore cultural contents in a cooperatively and intergenerationally way.
SUSTAINABILITY & MIGRABILITY MODELS
Based on the results of all the previous stages, LOCUS’s final phase aims to develop a fully functional version of Amiais’ sim. This step allows incorporating in the sim and immersive playful experiences. From here, it will be possible to present recommendations from the case studies and re-test to evaluate new features.
This last stage also comprises developing a theoretical model to converge playful immersive experiences in virtual environments and possible real experiences in the physical territory. To engage Amiais’ local inhabitants and stakeholders in those new virtual environments, the project will present “Amiais village in Second Life” in participatory activities to bring the participants into the virtual storytelling by replicating it in person.
To ensure the project’s sustainability, LOCUS will also present a set of recommendations to implement playful immersive experiences in metaverses such as Second Life specifically to promote rural territories and cultural heritage in metaverses. These guidelines can be useful to other rural regions that share cultural heritage aspects with Amiais village, which can bet on the virtual promotion of their territories.