Explore the ocean without getting wet: The Blu
Virtual worlds have long been used as a collaborative space, be it language learning, sharing virtual goods, or creating gardens and buildings with new friends from around the globe. The Blu takes collaboration to another level, by developing a virtual ocean world that is designed, created and maintained by players. Its mission is to use artists to digitally create the ocean’s flora and fauna, and allow players to explore this virtual ocean, share their art, and learn about different species through the world wide web.
“The Blu is an interactive world where every species and habitat is a unique work of art created by digital artists and developers around the world, as a social online experience. Collect the myriad species of ocean life and curate your section of the ocean. Connect with others around the world, linking up everyoneʼs section of the ocean in one connected ecosystem, with ocean life swimming across the web.”
The game itself has very impressive oceanic graphics (which has had input from an Academy Award winning animation director) and gives ample information on each of the different species created by players in the game through species websites. Each player has a ‘collection’, which is a list of all of the animals they have collected or purchased in-world. When a player clicks on an animal, they are given both information about that animal, and details of its creator. Players can connect with each other or become a fan of a particular oceanic artist.
In playing the game, you can either explore, collect or connect with the ocean environment. Players are encouraged to become a ‘maker’ (or artist) and submit your own oceanic art. Players can create different types of marine animals using their own 3D tools, and upload to the site where it is reviewed by an expert panel. A list of animals that are needed in the world is given to artists, and makers can, in the future, be able to earn real money by selling their fishy art through the virtual world.
As an educational resource, the Blu would be an interesting supplement to science, biology or art lessons. It would be a great way for older teens to express their artistic side by creating virtual ocean animals in a 3D environment. For tweens, discovering different ocean creatures in an interactive way can be a great addition to their learning. As a gaming experience, the blu is strangely compulsive, very relaxing and has some of the best oceanic graphics online.