The Elihu Paper Company is a virtual simulation of a pulp and paper mill constructed in Second Life. It was built for faculty of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies who taught a course on the environmental impact of industrial plants. The purpose of this simulation is to replace a physical tour of an actual paper mill. Students found that they were able to spend more time in the simulation than in a real world location and that the expert giving the tour was more forthcoming with information that is typical of employees leading a tour for their company.
The paper mill was planned and built in collaboration with New Media Consortium’s Virtual Worlds team using extensive research to accurately recreate the scale and detail of the real thing. Each machine and stage of the process was accurately modeled and the use of sound and movement enhances the experience so the student can not only study the technicalities of the production process, but also gain a visceral sense of the industrial environment. Throughout the simulation are clickable floating question marks that link to a website, where additional text, images, and video are provided to offer more in depth information.