The Virtual Worlds Universe

In Have You Got a Second Life?, I introduced the 3D social network Second Life, and hinted that this was just one of many such virtual worlds.

To see just how big the universe of virtual worlds is becoming, the Association of Virtual Worlds recently published a directory describing over 250 virtual worlds: The Blue Book: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds.

Download a copy of The Blue Book: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds. What categories does The Blue Book use to classify each world? For a consumer guide, what other information would you find useful to know? Identify three or four combinations of category that interest you, and see if a virtual world is listed that matches those categories.

Several other sites also offer comparison charts for the increasing number of virtual worlds that are now in existence. For example, virtualenvironments.info provides a comparison matrix of fifteen or so of the larger virtual worlds.

Identify two or three different scenarios in which it might be appropriate to visit a virtual world (for example, a business meeting, a school ‘geography field trip’, or a ‘night on the virtual town’). To give you an example of how such worlds might be used in business, for example, read this article from Business Week: The (Virtual) Global Office.

Now identify a virtual world that looks like it might provide an appropriate setting for each activity. Now visit each virtual world (or at least its website). In what ways do the worlds meet – or fail to meet – your expectations? Feel free to write a post about the scenarios you chose, the criteria you used to select an appropriate world, the worlds you selected (and why), what you expected to find in those virtual worlds, and how those worlds met your expectations. If you can find a demo video, or video review, of the virtual worlds in question, embed it in your post.

How should I behave in a Virtual World?

As with all social situations mediated by communication technologies, there is often a right way and a wrong way to behave when entering a virtual world.

Many organisations have a code of conduct that regulates their employees’ behaviour. Suppose that you work for an organisation that makes use of 3D virtual worlds. Write down five areas of personal behaviour, presentation or activity that might be addressed by a code of conduct for working in virtual worlds.

Now read the IBM Research IBM Virtual World Guidelines. Did you identify similar issues in your own list?

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