Choosing to play

What an interesting idea!

When planning urban spaces such as an underground station, two major questions are always present: route planning and turning a no-space into a space.

Route planning is the study of the routes people take/should take in a space (think about an exhibition gallery as a sort of a classical case, though actually route planning should go to such detail as routing inside a house, or a kitchen). An underground station is a paramount problem: you have thousands of people circuiting there everyday. They need to be able to orient themselves (sense of orientation drops amazingly below ground); they need to be able to go quickly inside the station; they need – very importantly – to be able to escape even more quickly in case of accident or fire. In this last case, security measures may force electrical devices such as elevators, escalators, etc, to shut down – this can cause confusion and delay if people try to use them to escape. So something that trains people into preferring stairs to electric devices as their usual route can be very positive.

As for the no-space thingy, well, we all know what it is. It is that uncomfy feeling everyone gets at many public spaces: a place which, belonging to everyone, belongs to nobody simultaneously. Too large, too unreferenced, too confusing… also, sadly so oftenly: too shabby, too uncaredĀ  for, too full of grafitti! Interventions like this can help turn a no-space into a space, since people can appropriate the intervention for a bit, make it theirs.

I suddenly thought that a lot of SL spaces are no-spaces. Interesting, why should that be?

2 Responses

  1. eloisepasteur said on October 25th, 2009 at 11:41 am:

    I thought I'd share my thought with the world as well as having shared it with you directly. That's one of the joys of blogging after all, comments too!

    Second Life has no-spaces because, despite being shabby and uncared for, they're too neat. The walls are all held up, and dull, no cupboards, bookcases, TVs, etc. The floor is uncluttered. There might be litter, but it's far less than it should be for the number of people because someone picks it up.

    Your house probably doesn't have litter building up in it. But even in the most minimalist house, there's a sense of it being lived in, rather than passed through. Books on the book case have a couple of spaces, or a load of books piled horizontally on the front of the shelf. The kettle isn't perfectly aligned to the worktop – it's at an angle that's convenient for refilling or for pouring, often for both. Unless you're a nurse or ex-services your bed looks used even after you've just made it. The top sheet isn't perfectly flat, there's a crease in the pillow-case. The book you were reading before you went to sleep last night is on the floor. The skirting board or the door frame is scratched where the dog wants to get out. The sofa is scratched where the cat sharpens her claws.

    Second Life doesn't have that. In Second Life, even if you "clutter" the house (and most people don't because it takes extra prims) the bed remains perfect even if you're having an orgy. You don't (well most people don't) put a book by the bed in SL because they don't read in bed in SL. The kettle is perfectly aligned because it's actually EASIER to do it that way and so the kitchen looks like a show home, a no-space.

    I think there's probably more to it too, but I think that's part of it.

  2. Moon Adamant said on October 25th, 2009 at 4:27 pm:

    Well, I certainly agree with you that the spaces in SL are too anti-septic. I have had the experience of just adding some magazines to a coffee-table – a little pell-mell – and it immediately make that seating area a bit more credible.
    Mind you, i have also been thinking on this and it seems to me that the excessive area of most SL spaces is also a reason. Granted, you have a camera issue there. But it's true that the scales of the buildings (dependent on camera) and of furniture (dependent on avatar size) don't match, and this makes the spaces seem also a bit strange.

    Exterior spaces need some further thinking… one big issue is definitely, in lots of sims, the inexistence of realistic streets and ways. This not only gives an impression of chaos, as makes orientation very difficult. But atm I think it's not only that, but the rest is a bit eluding me and i definitely have to think more on it. šŸ™‚

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