The Verisimilitude of Real Spaces

Playing Half-Life 2 Lost Coast a few weeks ago, I was struck by the sense of “place” that the game provides and the story that the spaces tell in a visual manner. Not only were the images beautifully rendered, but the spaces themselves seemed to emit a sense of real history, especially inside of the church:



Since starting work on my project, I’ve been fascinated by this real sense of space that can sometimes be found in virtual worlds and I’ve been wondering if it could be leveraged to help teach a second language. They say that nothing helps students learn a second language better than immersion abroad. I just wonder if immersion in a virtual space can also be helpful and, if yes, in what manner. Can the story that virtual spaces tell help to create mental narratives that students can use organize a second language and navigate spaces in which this language is used?

Although clearly not as beautifully rendered as the Half-Life 2 game, I’ve been trying to develop a verisimilitude of real space in the game I’ve been developing. In other words, to get it as close to a real-world German town as possible:


Now that the models are developed and inserted into the game, future work will focus on scripting player/object interactivity an C#, polishing gameplay, and testing the game prototype in my German 122 class in Spring Semester 2011. After that, well, then comes the boring stuff of writing up essays to discuss data and research findings.

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