The use of massively multiplayer online games to augment early-stage design process in construction
2012-06-18T15:49:08Z (GMT) by
Traditional 2-D contour models, Physical Models, Computer-Aided Architectural Design (CAD), Virtual Reality models, Google SketchUp, and Building Information Modelling (BIM) have all greatly enhanced the design process by enabling designers to visualise buildings and the space within them prior to their construction. A recent development is Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) such as Second Life (SL). These offer users the opportunity to interact with other participants in real time, and so offer an excellent opportunity to experience the environment, layout and form of virtual buildings. However, the effectiveness of such applications to some extent depends upon how realistic the interactions of those using virtual spaces are in relation to interactions within the real world. This research examines the potential of this technology for enhancing and informing the early stage building design process. Initially, the tools currently used by architects at early stages of the RIBA Plan of Work were evaluated through interviewing architects. Then, the advantages of using MMOG over current tools at early-stage design were evaluated through interviews in SL. A virtual model was developed to examine how realistic the visualisation and interaction between end-users in an MMOG was. This was used to propose and validate guidance to incorporating MMOG into the early stages of the RIBA Plan of Work. It revealed that the virtual model created, the validated guidance and a successful example combining 2D sketches, Google SketchUp and MMOG at early-stage design can be used to guide architects to manage the complex decision making process in a simple, easy, cost-effective way, while effectively engaging both professional and non-professional stakeholders.