This is a paper that I am going to present in AusWeb05 (co-authored with Roni Linser). Comment welcome.
Both role-play simulations and Virtual Worlds as pedagogy have now been around for some time and are both considered to be highly effective in creating effective and memorable experiences for learners. But whereas the rendered gaming model of virtual worlds seems to have captured the imagination of trainers, educators and researchers, the role-play model seems to have languished somewhat. This paper explores some of the pedagogic and psychological issues for learning associated with the rendering or non-rendering of virtual worlds. We argue that while rendered environments can contribute to learning, they are often too shallow for purposes such as fostering strategic thinking and problem solving. In such cases, non-rendered virtual worlds may be better in using and fostering the required imaginative capacities of learners.