Demographics of Virtual Worlds

Jeremiah Spence


Virtual worlds, as both a concept and an industry, has changed radically over the past 10 years, from a toy for the technological elite, to an over-hyped marketing phenomenon, to a needed reexamination of the uses and utility of virtual world technologies and experiences, as provided in this paper. Within academia there are a number of issues that require further examination. The academic community appears to be divided into four camps: 1. those who embrace virtual worlds; 2. those who ignore the shifting use of technology; 3. those who are aware but have not yet explored the technology; and 4. those who are entirely unaware that virtual worlds exist. There is an overwhelming focus of research, publications and funding on a single virtual world: Second Life, which does not serve more than a fraction of the entire population utilizing virtual worlds or similar technologies. An overview of the size, shape and forms of virtual worlds may have a positive impact on both of these issues. This paper presents an in-depth survey and analysis of virtual worlds and related technologies.


virtual worlds; typology; continuum; game space

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