Introduction to Virtual Worlds

What are virtual worlds? - Roxanna Fields

+ Intro

Intro to Metaverse Discussion
Massively multi-user virtual worlds are dynamic digital environments where individuals from around the globe come together. These worlds bridge the gap between the physical and virtual realms, creating a unique space where interactions occur, economies flourish, and even political systems can be formed. There is also a diversity of engagement within virtual worlds.

Metaverse Roadmap Focus
The Metaverse roadmap centers on the prominence of virtual worlds and the high levels of interest they generate. In the academic sphere, this landscape has become a topic of extensive discussion, drawing researchers and scholars who are eager to unravel its complexities. However, it is equally important to note that alongside the interest, there exists a substantial degree of uncertainty and disagreement. This underscores the evolving nature of virtual worlds and the constant need for research and understanding in this space.

Significance of Avatars in Virtual Worlds
Avatars play a central role in this digital landscape. They represent the very embodiment of users within these virtual worlds. Avatars often parallel physical world human capabilities, yet there are accelerated learning experiences which lead to a more rapid growth in social, economic, and functional capability.

+ What is it? / What platforms does it run on?

Evolution of Electronic Virtual Worlds
The evolution of electronic virtual worlds can be traced back to the emergence of personal computers. Platforms like MUD, Adventureland, and CBBS laid the foundation for what we know today. These early forms of virtual worlds were primarily text-based, with limited graphical interfaces.

Digital Narratives Across History
Digital narratives have been a part of human civilization for centuries, rooted in stories set in "other realities." These narratives found their early adoption in textual form, emphasizing storytelling and emotional appeal. As we progressed, the emphasis shifted towards visual aspects, marking a distinguishing factor in the evolution of electronic virtual worlds.

Technological Advancements
Technological advancements have played a pivotal role in shaping virtual worlds. Improvements in graphical technology, a crossing of the usability threshold, and the expansion of broadband connectivity have all propelled the development of these digital realms. Moreover, software innovations have empowered users to express themselves creatively within virtual environments.

Social and Economic Impact
The social and economic impact of electronic virtual worlds cannot be overstated. These worlds have transformed into major differentiators, with examples like "2.5D" virtual worlds such as Playdo and Habbo Hotel attracting millions of youth users. Emphasis has shifted towards the social benefits, simplicity, and speed of operation, despite perhaps not reaching the level of 3D graphics we often associate with virtual reality.

Habbo Hotel

Strengths and Challenges of Virtual Worlds- Riley Gayle

+ Strengths

Enhanced learning
Through Virtual Worlds a user it able to be exposed to a varitey of things making the possiblities endless. Specifically pretaining to learning, for certain students and subjects, visualizing the concept is a much more effective learning approach rather than reading and writing, for example. With Virtual worlds are able to have a more vistulized learning environment in classrooms, which can enhance student engagement. For example studies have shown virtual realities have been the most effective in assisting in STEM assignments for students to interact and learn about chemical reactions ia more close up and interactive way.

According to Futuclass, " The gamification of concepts can completely transform the way a students leanrs" (3). By implementing these systems it introduces not only a new way of leanring but also a more engaging and interactive approach to learning.


This image shows virutal reailty being used to understand chemical reactions. This is extremly benefical

Virutal worlds are highly effective when training in industries such as manufacturing, military and healthcare. For example many healthcare professionals use virtual realities when training for surgeries, especially when cadavers arent available or if theres a limited supply of them. This system requires a lot less resources making it more cost efficient for workers and for training, which is why it can be seen as a strength.

Virutal reality gamming allows a user to feel a lot more immeresed in the game which overall can make the experience a lot mroe fun adn entertaining. There are a lot of common VW games such as Sims. The're used for entertainment purposes which can be seen as a strength.

Enhanced visualization
Virtual realities allow for the examination of infrastructures before they are constructed. This allows people to identify and examine design flaws and also offers clients a more realisitc preview of what the future of their project will look like.

In relation to enhanced visualization, virtual worlds/ realities facilitate the creation of prototypes. They can help make designs and products. With this feature designers can test their ideas and adjust to wherever they think fits best. This helps reduce cost so they can refine any issues virtually before creating the real design.

+ Challenges

Identity issues
Identity is always a recurring challenge when it comes to interacting with people through the internet. It's hard to ensure whether the person you're interacting with is being their authentic self. There's always an increased danger when interacting with people online. Especially with new updates and development to the virtual world systems, designers want to make it so that VW experiences are more personalized. In order for VW experiences to be more personalized, personal information would need to be collected. With more information collected there is an increased chance of your identity being compromised.

Social roles
When will virtual worlds be deemed acceptable? For example, are there some fields where VWs should not be used, and if so where would it be deemed appropriate and why. This is a challenge with Virtual Worlds. Additionally when and where would virtual worlds be seen as a more particle use.

Equal Access
Virtual worlds require the internet. Internet access is already a pressing issue in the world. Therefore without the internet, it wouldn’t be as accessible to others. Additionally, the materials to engage in virtual worlds are expensive making it harder for people to have access to it due to their cost.Especially when a user wants high quality VW experiences, it tends to make the equipment for that more expensive

Social Isolation
Extensively engaging in virtual worlds can lead to less human contact and social isolation. As virtual worlds take you from reality to a fictional one, it can restrict the amount of time you spend in the real world and can cause you to communicate less with the real world. This is considered a challenge because real human interaction is important for it helps enhance social skills and other rudimentary human skills. Adding on the more you engage in Virtual worlds, the more you start to neglect the real world and the people in it.

Future of Virutal Worlds- Riley Gayle

Room for growth

Enhance hardware structure
Hopefully in the future the structure of hardware can minimize in size making it more functionable and convenient for everyday use. With an enhanced hardware structure many of Virtual reality functions can be improved overall making the hardware better. An example of a group working towards a future of enhanced hardware for Virtual Worlds, is a group of research students at Carnegie Mellon. They are working towards developing systems that can, "trick your brain into thinking you are touching, feeling and interacting with things that aren't really there with as little handware as possible"(14). One step towards this future is their introduction to Ultrasonic Beaforming mouth haptics, which can give off the sensation that you can feel whats happening on your screen in real life. Receptars are attached to your lips and through these receptars you can feel acoustic pressure on your lips from the speaker. Another way they are working towards more enhanced hardware is with the use of wireality, which attach wires to a user hands and give on the sensation that what you are touching in the virtual world, you are also touching in real life.

This image displays what Ultrasonic Beaforming mouth haptics look like.

As mentioned before, virtual reality can already play a vital role in helping improve education. As the technology continues to grow, even more education opportunities will open up through virtual worlds.

Eventually, virtual worlds will be made more accessible, which will allow others to benefit from both the entertainment purposes that virtual reality can provide, but will also allow people to benefit from the educational purposes that virtual reality can provide.

Eventually in the future, security systems will be enhanced in order to keep users within the virtual world safe. For example online disinhibition will hopefully decrease in the future through virtual worlds.

Integrations with other systems
When reading the metaverse road map, it was mentioned that virtual worlds are starting to collaborate with AI systems in order to make the experience more personalized. For example, the book mentioned incorporating AI that would scam your face before entering a game so that your avatar looks more like you. This is only one example, but as Virtual realities continue to enhance, they’ll be able to collaborate with other features even more.

Origin/History of Virtual Worlds - Ginger Burke

Virtual worlds have existed since the beginning of computers, with the most notable early virtual world being Adventureland. The most common virtual worlds are Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), which started as text-based Multi-User Domains (MUDs). MUDs are similar to online chat rooms, but follow a storyline. These were later converted to 3D graphical MMOGs with the improvement of graphics technology and internet bandwidth.
Next, in the 80s, we started seeing Massively Multiplayer Online Role Play Games (MMORPGs), first with Habitat and later in 1996 with Meridian 59 (the first MMORPG to use 3D graphics, but was never particularly celebrated). Other games built similarly to Meridian 59, such as Ultima, Lineage, and World of Warcraft, were or still are very popular.
After the Matrix, a movie where reality is a virtual world, came out in 1999 and romanticized virtual worlds, they experienced a large boom in popularity.

Case Studies - Ginger Burke


Decentraland is a virtual world in which users can buy real estate with cryptocurrency (MANA) on the Ethereum blockchain. Each user has an avatar, which can wear clothes, interact with other avatars, hold parties, and buy land. The game was built in 2015 but did not become successful until 2021 after some major brands including Samsung and Adidas spent millions on virtual real estate. However, it declined in popularity almost immediately due to the abundance of bugs and lack of users.

The Sims

The Sims is a life simulation video game that allows users to live vicariously through their avatars. Avatars can experience emotions, have jobs, host parties, get married, and need to be taken care of properly to survive. This game is more guided than Decentraland, offering users choices rather than a blank canvas. It also doesn't allow users to interact with other live users, whereas Decentraland and the Sandbox were built for user interaction. The Sims started in 1989 with SimCity, and still widely popular today, both for its life simulation and building simulation.

The Sandbox

The Sandbox is similar to Decentraland in that it is on the Ethereum blockchain and users can buy LAND with cryptocurrency. In the Sandbox, users can create their own worlds to own or sell in the marketplace. In the image located above, you can see the 'neighborhoods' that the Sandbox is divided into. Users can choose where their virtual land is located, often deciding to buy land next to a celebrity or brand they like. Brands can advertise on the Sandbox with fashion shows and interactive online stores.


5. file:///C:/Users/9286252/Downloads/MetaverseRoadmap.pdf

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