What is a Virtual World?
Have you been wondering exactly "what is a virtual world"? The term is used to loosely describe online environments that allow multiple users to interact in a controlled, role-playing environment. Unlike social networking sites that allow users to interact in real time with their real identities (like Facebook or Twitter), virtual worlds assume some kind of focused setting, whether the purpose is recreation, education or business. And virtual worlds all use a graphical interface that creates a visual environment that contributes to the role-playing experience.
What is a virtual world that is based on recreation?
World of Warcraft
is one of the most popular online gaming sites based in a virtual world. It is a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) created as the fourth in a series of popular multimedia games and has more than 10 million subscribers. Players create avatars, develop in-world skills like blacksmithing and fishing, participate in quests and confront monsters. Other virtual entertainment worlds like
are geared toward younger children. Kids ages 8 to 12 can pretend to have super powers, go on adventures, chat with friends and play dress up with their avatars.
What is a virtual world that is used for education?
Along with the entertainment components, Dizzywood has educational features, too. In fact, it is being used in a California classroom to teach grade school children about online safety, storytelling and teamwork. Second Life (SL) is being used by more than 20 universities around the world to deliver distance education and carry out research. For example, Annenberg Island is a location within SL developed by the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. It is conducting research on how virtual worlds can be used in conflict resolution, among other topics. Idaho State university has built a virtual campus within SL to train people in health care and emergency preparedness. The University of Washington offers a
Certificate in Virtual Worlds
that trains people to bring the concept of virtual worlds into business organizations.
What is a virtual world that is used for business?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
has been using Second Life in its program to education and inform people about the role of the ocean in the world's ecosystem. By simulating a tsunami within Second Life, and publishing it on YouTube, they have been able to reach thousands of people who were skeptical about the reality of global warming.
Second Life offers a virtual workspace platform
that is being used by companies such as IBM and Intel. Far from their origins as online games, virtual worlds have developed into sophisticated business environments.
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