The Idiots' Guide to Virtual World Design

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From: [email protected] (Kathryn Best)
Subject: The Idiots' Guide to Virtual World Design
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 1994 22:12:15 GMT

"The Idiots' Guide to Virtual World Design" by Kathryn Best

Published by Little Star Press, Seattle WA. ISBN 0-9641504-0-9

I am an architect by training and am presently working in the field of
virtual world design. The book is based on my experiences in developing an
awareness of design-related issues as applied to virtual space, while at
The Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) in Seattle. The book is
48 pages and is heavily illustrated. It has proved to be successful as a
basic introduction to the field, both for computer types who are unaware of
the importance of design issues, and for design types who want to
know how they can apply their skills to developing better virtual worlds.
The book has also been used as an educational primer for school-aged
children just starting to work with the creative aspects of computers.

"The Idiots' Guide" was premiered in mid-May at the Meckler Virtual Reality
Conference and Exhibition in San Jose, California. It can be obtained from
selected design / computer bookstores, and from:

Little Star Press
323 Broadway, #306
Seattle WA 98102

ISBN 0-9641504-0-9

Price $12.00, postpaid within the United States.
Washingon residents add $1.00 sales tax; international orders add $2.00

Excerpts from forward and introduction:

Virtual worlds need to be designed. The world and the experience one can
have in it must be consciously shaped. So far those using virtual worlds
have never been caught up and taken away by the experience. The event
usually involves a bad copy of the real world, verging on the tedious,
tiresome and downright boring.

We need to create worlds that are worth entering - that are INVITING - and
worth spending time in - that are CAPTIVATING. They should be powerful,
interesting, pleasurable, a medium of expression and experience as well as
a way for people to interact with each other. It is time we stopped
tinkering with the equipment and started playing with the worlds.

Traditional design approaches are not entirely suitable. A new model of the
design process appropriate for the design medium needs to be developed.
Just as the invention of film was initially seen as a way of documenting
events, it took the artistic skills of the great directors to turn it into
the powerful communicatuion medium it has become.

This is a guide to Virtual World Design, to exploring alternatives. It is
only by exploring alternatives that we can gain conviction in any paticular

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And to know the place for the very first time." (T S Eliot)


review from Bob Jacobson, Worldesign:

>"The Idiots' Guide" is probably the first readable, intelligent discussion of
>design in virtual space....Not only does it raise the questions of design
>that all world builders will have to confront at one time or another, but the
>guide does it with insight and humor that invite the general reader to
>participate in the adventure. The illustrations aptly enable the reader to
>appreciate the complexities....The witty interpretations of common problems
>in spatial design as they apply to virtual worlds demonstrate that everyone,
>all of the time, is a virtual world builder in one's head. The future of the
>technology lies not with the specialist magicians but rather with the
>enthusiastic artist and craftsperson living in each of us.
>"The Idiots' Guide" is destined to be an impulse-buy classic that has as much
>appeal for the trend seeking general reader as it has for the computer adept.

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