>For the purposes of my research, I'm working from the definition that
>Benjamin Duranske used here:
This is a little ironic, given that "virtual worlds" was
originally supposed to be an umbrella term that covered both social
and game worlds, but was claimed by social worlds. Social and game
worlds have a long history of appropriating and denying umbrella
terms, in an apparent effort to keep some space between them. It
goes back to the schism 20 years ago in the textual worlds days,
when social worlds broke away (see http://mud.co.uk/richard/IMGDC2009.pdf
from about slide 26 onwards).
In his book, Duranske defines virtual worlds as:
"All are computer-based simulated environments
All are designed to be populated by 'avatars'.
All allow for communication between users.
Most offer persistence of user-created content.
Many offer functional economies."
The latter two points are important to Duranske because they
are at the heart of why virtual worlds are interesting for a legal
perspective. Personally, I would say that persistence is necessary
for all virtual worlds, in that the world must persists when you're
unusual, but it still captures the essence of it. I'd also say
that they have to be real-time and shared, both of which are implied
but not stated in Duranske's definition. I'd want to unpack the
word "avatar", too (especially as its meaning is also in continual
>The idea that user-generated content that is persistent through time
>and can be manipulated or modified by other users independently of the
>original creator would still apply to a cave painting (only we call it
>graffiti these days ... *grin).
Except when we call it art..!
This is a little ironic, given that "virtual worlds" was originally supposed to be an umbrella term that covered both social and game worlds, but was claimed by social worlds. Social and game worlds have a long history of appropriating and denying umbrella terms, in an apparent effort to keep some space between them. It goes back to the schism 20 years ago in the textual worlds days, when social worlds broke away (see http://mud.co.uk/richard/IMGDC2009.pdf from about slide 26 onwards).
>Others were bandying about terms like "graphical MUDs", or "Virtual
>Enviroments" (happily that term has stayed locked up in academia.
Indeed. It's interesting how certain sub-groups of academics
will use one term and others will use another. Some stick resolutely
to MUVE, for example; it can act as a kind of shibboleth to show
you're part of the tribe and not a visitor from the outside.
This is what happens when people believe Wikipedia...
>During the first pulse of net-based avatar inhabited worlds (well
>after Habitat of course) there was no real substantial presence
>of Internet based multiplayer gaming worlds
If you mean graphical ones and you insist on the Internet
as being distinct from online, then yes. If you allow non-graphical
ones, there were some with tens of thousands of players (in 1993, one
bit in 10 transmitted along the NSFnet backbone belonged to a MUD);
if you allow online services such as CompuServe and AOL (which had
more users than the Internet for at least half the 1990s) then there
were plenty of graphical virtual worlds - Neverwinter Nights, Shadow
of Yserbius, Kingdom of Drakkar and so on.
>I also created a full glossary of terms in the Avatars book (1997)
>if anyone is interested in that I can send it along.
I have a "MUDspeke Dictionary" I wrote in 1992, which I keep
online at http://www.mud.co.uk/muse/speke.htm . Although many of the
terms in it are specific to my own particular MUDs (MUD1 and MUD2),
some have leaked out into wider usage ("newbie" is a good example of
this; again, irony being what it is, sometimes people will accuse me
of being a n00b in forum posts, unaware that it was me who gave them
the word "newbie" in the first place...). Other terms are not from
MUD but were imported ("avatar" is an example of this).
Henry>If only we had a test to apply instead ...
Well, we do have criteria we can apply, but I agree they don't
really get to the heart of the issue of what virtual worlds are in the
way that Turing's test does for AI. If we had a test like his, now
that would be much more useful, yes.