Friday, February 16, 2007

Real World Places in Second Life: Ancient Rome

This sounds like great fun! I also like the learning potential of such a simulation. I had written to the producers of the Caesar III PC game and suggested they incorporate some of the features Mr. Golding has incorporated into his sim like being able to attend a play once you have built a theater in your virtual city, being able to attend a chariot race if you have added a hippodrome, or being able to watch a gladiator match. Mr. Golding has all of these activities included in his sim as well as the ability to drive a chariot or be a gladiator!

The Click Heard Round The World: "Torin Golding's outstanding sim called simply 'Roma' is a feast for the senses and a powerful demonstration of the potential for virtual environments to immerse you in historic places.

Upon arrival at the Roma "customs house", you are presented with a number of orientation materials as well as a free toga to help you fit in better, and get into the spirit of the locale.

Roma is a no-fly zone, so bring your walking sandals and a good map or be prepared to get lost. There are handy "magic fountains" everywhere, which when touched rez fancy litters that transport you to various spots on the sim. You can also wear a free HUD map of the city, that helped me in my meanderings.

The sim is dominated by a giant legion fortress and official structures that rise high atop the Palatine Hill. There's also a wharf area, marketplace, museum, and lush gardens.

Lots of nice accents add to the immersiveness and context of what you are experiencing. Clicking on the red markers on various sites brings up notecards that give you historical background on the structures around you. Legionaires, Roman citizens and gladiators walking around greet you with a hearty "Ave!" as you pass by. I learned more than I thought I would at the museum on Palatine Hill, which features an exhibition on sexual mores in Roman times.

You can do things you only imagined doing in the real life Rome, like climbing Trajan's column! There's a free "play" you can watch in the amphitheater, which is quite cleverly done using text, images and sound. There's action afoot in the chariot races. You can also enter the gladiator pit and duke it out with other would-be warriors. Or sit in the stands and render judgement with a thumbs up or down."

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