« Is it I? | Main | GLS Conference 5.0 Call for Papers »

Dec 08, 2008



It's as if they define virtual worlds as social spaces only (ie no dominant game mechanics) and don't include MMORPGs in their definition of VWs. Their conception of "avatar" is narrower than I think the common internet user defines it as well.
There are some interesting insights in the report but I was disappointed to see that the data is two years old having come from the internet usage survey in the fall of 2007 which means that the Wii and other more recent developments aren't included.


I assume they're relying on how their users responded, and my guess is that most MMO players don't consider their games to be "virtual worlds," even if, technically speaking, they are. Also, it IS possible to have "created an avatar" without "participating in a virtual world": What's Meez, after all?


I'm confused as well. The data in the sample questions is based on 2,054 adults aged 18 and up, but the write up clearly talks about teens as distinct from young adults (18-29). Something feels off generally to me, regardless of the definitions for "virtual worlds" and "MMOGs."


It's hard not to be a little pretentious when commenting about the report, but it seems as though the researchers made a mistake by letting the survey's population play by their own rules.

Subjective definitions really weakened the report, and I have a feeling that the truth is far more interesting.


MMORPGs aren't really virtual worlds, they're a separate beast. The term "virtual world" implies an awful lot of stuff that simply doesn't appear in mainstream MMOs, which is a good thing, attempting to include them would dilute the dev team's focus and result in . . . well, I'm sure you can think of a few :)


"Weird numbers, given that MMOGs are virtual worlds,"

There is an assumption in that statement. If anything, the study would indicate there is a fundamental disconnect with the general public's sense of what a virtual world is and the assumptions we use. I've certainly seen many posts that don't assume they are the same thing. If WOW is an MMOG, what is Second Life? What's the word that says it's not a game, it's the other thing? Seems like the general public has adopted "Virtual World". It makes sense to have a distinction between the two, because studies that don't make the distinction often leave the impression that the worldly experiences with user generated content and real money economies are more popular that they really are.


Avatars aren't necessarily from virtual worlds or MMOs. For instance, consider the "avatar" or online representation of yourself that you can use for Yahoo, AIM WeeMee, and Meebo. And who here has used the South Park avatar creator program?


Avatars aren't necessarily from virtual worlds or MMOs. For instance, consider the "avatar" or online representation of yourself that you can use for Yahoo, AIM WeeMee, and Meebo. And who here has used the South Park avatar creator program?


Much of this thread is simply talking cross taxonomies. As I noted in VW Taxonomy Q1 ’08 (http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2008/03/vw-taxonomy-q1.html) the term Virtual World is used in two senses either as the generic super set; or, as in this case, when used in relation to MMO’s it denotes what we tend to call Social Worlds. This use has been common for a while now.

Where I think the report is odd, is with phrases such as “Just 2% of gamers say they have ever visited a virtual world” which is kind of like saying 2% of gamers prefer games. Also while the study does not the differences in use of ‘virtual worlds’ between adults and children, I feel that given this difference it should prefice many more of its assertions with ‘adult’ e.g. the above should read “Just 2% of adult gamers say they have ever visited a virtual world”.

As to the avatar data, this might be generated by the rather odd language. “Create or use an avatar or online graphic representation of yourself, for example, in a virtual world such as Second Life” I think that many people would not see (a) what they see as an ‘icon’ as an avatar (though many here might see it as the same thing, (b) their ‘avatar’ as a representation of self, rather they might see it in a more other or instrumental sense.


It's a taxonomy issue... and I blame the academics :P. As these online spaces emerged, quite a few words were used to describe them. Initially most of them were treated synonymously (like "Virtual Worlds" (or "Synthetic Worlds") and "MMO*").

It doesn't take long for newcomers to become buried by all these terms and simply ask "well, what's the difference between 'Virtual World' and 'MMO*'"?... and as there's a common design debate over "world vs game" in MMO's it is easy enough for someone to mistakenly assume that the terms apply to the different-leaning design concepts.

Not that it's right.... but heck, if it isn't corrected that might very well BE the correct taxonomy in a few years' time.


George Carlin said something to the effect of: "Did you ever start a path? It's a little hard at first, you have to hold the grass down yourself..."

To confuse the matter further...At the New Nexus project (which you may recall from TN here), we are trying to get free virtual world authoring software for learning made. Our software (should it ever get made) and our current proof-of-concept demos are not games, but nor are they social spaces.

I'm certainly among those who are hoping that VWs can be more than EITHER games OR chat spaces with graphics...they can be other things too. But I'm not thinking that the general public will understand the nuances soon. -I do hope that we can all bring more and more attractive VWs to them in a way that makes them open to them.

PS: And then there's this from TN's own self-description: "Terra Nova is a weblog about virtual worlds. Virtual Worlds are also known as synthetics worlds, MMOs, MMORPGs, Social Worlds, MUDs, MOOs, and MUSHes."


We see that people are finding new use for virtual worlds. each single day. People aren't sure yet and are still discovering what they can do with immersive reality. Some good usage has already been found but a lot more is yet to come and will follow as technology evolves in the future. This needs time to grow just like the internet needed time to establish itself.

The comments to this entry are closed.