files, users can download other necessary material including Japanese font support soft-
ware.While VRML is the primary technology used in the general exploration of the cas-
tle, Java is used to allow the model to handle events and behaviours that are beyond the
capabilities of VRML.
The castle can be explored in a number of different modes: navigating, communicat-
ing, translating and learning. Since the VRML files are held locally, navigating and learn-
ing modes do not require the user to be connected to the Internet.When connected the
user can receive updated files, interact with other users using voice and text chat and
have access to a dynamic bi-directional dictionary for translations. A virtual teacher is on-
hand to assist the learners.
Developers of the Virtual Nagoya Castle claim that the multi-user environment boosts
foreign language acquisition.The entertaining setting makes this experience similar to a
game, with the presence of the user in the form of an avatar walking around and chatting
with other learners and native speakers of the study language.The developers hope to
begin work on speech recognition capabilities in the near future. If the virtual teacher
can be made to recognise what a student is saying, it can guide speaking practice,
improving the interface and usability of the environment.Work is ongoing to allow per-
sonalised avatars for each user which will be more engaging than the default avatars that
are currently in use.
The Project Orbis team is concerned with further exploration of how varied language
exposure can help students.This situation is comparable with a real-world language class
where students learn from each other as well as from their teacher.The work on avatars
brings the touch of games development to the subject matter, and the interdisciplinary
combination of an enjoyable and culture-heavy virtual setting with foreign language stu-
dents has been a success.
Case Study III Réunion des Musées Nationaux
The Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN, Assembly of National Museums) is a net-
work of 33 national museums in France. It has long had a highly competent art publish-
ing department and has developed a strong interest in new communication technologies
and multimedia. In 1993, the RMN set up a multimedia department and began to pro-
duce and publish interactive products.Their catalogue of cultural CD-ROM's now num-
bers some fifty titles covering five major areas:
- Museums, exhibitions and art history.The role of the RMN's multimedia depart-
ment is seen not only as an enhancement to the permanent collections in the muse-
ums' network, but in promoting temporary exhibitions;
- Games. In 1996, the RMN invented a new genre with its cultural heritage game,
Versailles 1685, a Game of Intrigue
, in which the player discovers world cultural
heritage from a specific period;
- Programs to make art accessible to young people;
- Printing workshops that allow users to print their own materials such as bookmarks,
postcards, posters and calendars featuring famous masterpieces.
113 This case study is based on material from the Webpages of Réunion des Musées Nationaux
(http://www.rmn.fr/index-gb.html) and Cryo (http://www.cryo.fr), both sites visited on 22/01/2003.
114 Versailles 1685, a Game of Intrigue: