Second Life received something of an indirect publicity boost today, having gained mention via an Emmy nomination. The Virtual Mine – an extension of Deep Down–A Story From the Heart of Coal Country, aired by PBS – has been nominated under the New Approaches to News and Documentary Programming: Documentaries category.
Deep Down–A Story From the Heart of Coal Country, first broadcast in the autumn of 2010, is an examination of the human consequences of our environmental impact. The film follows Beverly May and Terry Ratliff in Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky,, a region that has supplied the USA nation with coal for over a century, and who now find themselves in the midst of a debate dividing their community and the world: who controls, consumes, and benefits from our planet’s shrinking supply of natural resources? While Beverly organizes her neighbours and leads a legal fight to stop Miller Brothers Coal Company from advancing into her hollow, Terry considers signing away the mining rights to his backyard-a decision that could destroy not only the two friends’ homes, but the peace and environment surrounding their community. Through their eyes, the battle over energy and the wealth and environmental destruction it represents in through into sharp relief, and raises questions relating to humankind’s own morality, our connection to the earth’s resources, and most importantly, our link to people whose daily lives are far removed from our own and yet deeply impacted through our actions. Through a complex human story that cuts across environment, economics, public policy, and culture, the story of Beverly May and Terry Ratliff reveals the devastating impact of our energy consumption against an explosive backdrop: Appalachia’s centuries-old struggle over the black rock that fuels our planet.
The Virtual Mine, nominated for an Emmy today, was created as an adjunct to Deep Down, and launched on November 10th 2010 with over 40 people in attendance, including Second Life experts and environmental activists and educators. It is an immersive, educational 3D environment, game, and educational curriculum located within Second Life (Surl) for teachers, students, and anyone who’d like to learn more about mountain top removal, coal fired power production, alternative energies, and the amazing music and culture in the Appalachian mountains. The video below explains some more about the thinking behind the project.
The game can by played individually in in groups, with players progressing sequentially through the first three levels,to achieve “mini-game” outcomes at each level. Every level contains a video prompt leading players to begin the next phase of this energy story. The first stage of the game examines mining itself and the need for energy; the second looks at reducing our energy demands, and the third looks at alternative energy sources, while the forth chapter provides the opportunity for celebration and to learn about energy conservation.
For teachers, the game offers opportunities to explore a range of subjects with their students, including:
- Identity, representation and empathy
- Problem solving and collaboration
- Exploration and environmental discovery.
Funded by ITVS and MacArthur Foundation, and developed at BAVC’s Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, the Virtual Mine is open for anyone to explore, and demonstrates the tremendous power of Second Life as an educational tool and also presents a unique and immersive means of supporting the original Deep Down documentary itself.
Emmy winners will be announced on the 26th September 2011. Good luck to all involved, and congratulations on your nomination.