IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Agent Street: An Environment for Exploring Agent-Based Models in Second Life




Urban models can be seen on a continuum between iconic and symbolic. Generally speaking, iconic models are physical versions of the real world at some scaled down representation, while symbolic models represent the system in terms of the way they function replacing the physical or material system by some logical and/or mathematical formulae. Traditionally iconic and symbolic models were distinct classes of model but due to the rise of digital computing the distinction between the two is becoming blurred, with symbolic models being embedded into iconic models. However, such models tend to be single user. This paper demonstrates how 3D symbolic models in the form of agent-based simulations can be embedded into iconic models using the multi-user virtual world of Second Life. Furthermore, the paper demonstrates Second Life's potential for social science simulation. To demonstrate this, we first introduce Second Life and provide two exemplar models; Conway's Game of Life, and Schelling's Segregation Model which highlight how symbolic models can be viewed in an iconic environment. We then present a simple pedestrian evacuation model which merges the iconic and symbolic together and extends the model to directly incorporate avatars and agents in the same environment illustrating how 'real' participants can influence simulation outcomes. Such examples demonstrate the potential for creating highly visual, immersive, interactive agent-based models for social scientists in multi-user real time virtual worlds. The paper concludes with some final comments on problems with representing models in current virtual worlds and future avenues of research.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Crooks & Andrew Hudson-Smith & Joel Dearden, 2009. "Agent Street: An Environment for Exploring Agent-Based Models in Second Life," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 12(4), pages 1-10.
  • Handle: RePEc:jas:jasssj:2008-81-2

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cory Ondrejka, 2007. "Collapsing Geography (Second Life, Innovation, and the Future of National Power)," Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, MIT Press, vol. 2(3), pages 27-54, July.
    2. Joshua M. Epstein, 2007. "Agent-Based Computational Models and Generative Social Science," Introductory Chapters,in: Generative Social Science Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling Princeton University Press.
    3. Daniel Kornhauser & Uri Wilensky & William Rand, 2009. "Design Guidelines for Agent Based Model Visualization," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 12(2), pages 1-1.
    4. Hoogendoorn, S. P. & Bovy, P. H. L., 2004. "Pedestrian route-choice and activity scheduling theory and models," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 169-190, February.
    5. Joshua M. Epstein & Robert L. Axtell, 1996. "Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550253, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:jas:jasssj:2008-81-2. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Flaminio Squazzoni). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.