Training in the 21st Century

Experience a 3D World to Really “Get It”?

While putting together a video (Machinima) to demonstrate interpersonal, experiential training possibilities of 3D for our website, my partner and I kept hearing the same refrain: no one can actually “get it” until they’ve experienced a 3D world. Nevertheless, we persevered to develop a video clip that, we hoped, would help people understand that, in 3D training, participants are stepping into those environments—via avatars they control from their office chairs—and moving around, acting, and interacting with avatars of other real people (who are also controlling them from office chairs) hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles away.

We thought we’d succeeded at conveying this important aspect of 3D training until we tested it out on friends who’d never been in a 3D world. They liked the video and were excited about what we were doing. But from their comments and questions, it quickly became clear that they thought we were preparing to make a series of training videos consisting of educational role plays to sell to our clients. It was obvious that years spent passively viewing TV and movies made this their default frame of reference when they watched a video of slightly cartoonish characters moving around inside a 3D landscape.

This misunderstanding brought to mind a group I encountered several years ago. They’d moved, during the Spring of one year, from a tropical region to farm in an area of the country with four very distinct seasons. Following the customs of their culture, they spent several months meeting neighbors, learning about the life there, and settling in. This strategy was probably a sound one to use in an area with a year-round growing season, but it wasn’t a good fit for their new region. They had seen pictures of snow-covered landscapes, and were told that the lush growing area they saw around them would become a frozen wasteland late in the year. But the words and images couldn’t override the power of their real experiences. The weather was hot and they thought they had plenty of time. Once they started planting, the season turned too quickly for them to harvest a good crop and they struggled through a harsh, difficult Winter, surviving partly with the help of their new neighbors. It took living through one bitterly cold, snow covered season for them to really “get” what everyone meant by the word “Winter.”

It is always difficult for us to comprehend anything alien to, and outside of, our experiences. And our years spent passively watching TV and movies creates a real barrier to understanding the interactive nature of 3D. We need to find ways to overcome the passive viewer orientation and communicate to people that the cartoonish little figure on their screen is them. It will move, act and speak only when they use their keyboards, mice and microphones to make it move, act and speak. And it will become an extension of them as it encounters other avatars—moving, acting, speaking, and interacting under the control of other real people—to explore the vast opportunities offered by 3D worlds.

If you’d like to experience a 3D environment, contact us at or 415-400-4380 to arrange a guided tour/orientation.

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