Friday, February 3, 2012

The Appeal of Virtual Worlds

To Joe Sanchez,

     Your article, "A Social History of Virtual Worlds", offered a very interesting summary of how the world of online games evolved over time. The many insights and details you offered in the article about certain online games can shed light on how these games became so popular in our society today. The two main ones, World of Warcraft and Second Life, both have active players in the millions, which are extremely impressive numbers when considering the immense selection of online games that exist today. I believe this can be attributed to the point you made in saying, "According to Betsy Book, both game worlds and social virtual worlds share five common features." These five features are the characteristics of certain games that keeps the user coming back for more time and time again.
     1. "Virtual worlds are shared spaces used by many players at the same time." The fact that these games are made up of shared spaces where many users can access simultaneously accounts for a lot of the appeal. Humans in general need to interact with others in order to thrive and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These online worlds accommodate that need and do so in a much easier way than meeting up in person.
     2. "Virtual worlds contain a graphical user Interface that depicts space visually." No longer are "text-based" games going to attract the user's attention in such a technologically advanced society that we live in. Players want to be able to see and feel every action that occurs and movement that they make. Being able to visually see their avatar in these virtual worlds is much more stimulating and attractive to a gamer.
     3. "Interaction in virtual worlds occurs in real time; users experience immediacy." Once again, our society has driven us to not only want, but pretty much expect to see instant results. This is especially so when playing a video game or interacting in an online world. This expectation is no different from when your internet goes down for a few minutes and you anxiously do everything you can to get it back up and running.
     4. "Virtual worlds allow users the ability to alter the world they are in; the space is interactive." This feature is more of a perk, but nonetheless another factor in drawing users in. The ability to manipulate the world you're playing in just makes the experience more interactive and the user feel more connected.
     5. "Finally, virtual worlds are persistent worlds; the worlds continue even when a player logs out or quits a game." The world the user is playing in is ever-changing, and for the better. Users know that as soon as they log off, the game will continue and so will the rest of its inhabitants. This drives the user to always have the game in mind and also causes that attraction to log back on as soon as possible in order to "keep up"

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