I appreciate how you provided the background history of virtual worlds. It is amazing how far that they have come from where they began. New developments have allowed these virtual worlds to expand into something huge that have captured the attention and interest of millions of users. I'm pretty sure that these developments have come from users who often felt that the technological restraints were hindering them from fully enjoying themselves in these virtual worlds. Honestly, I could not believe that people navigated through virtual worlds by means of text command. It just sounds absurd because nowadays, with the click of a key, or the slightest movement of our mouse, our avatars are walking, running, flying, etc.
Virtual worlds, which are becoming more like social virtual worlds (e.g., Second Life), have undergone so many creative and innovative changes that they are looking and feeling more similar to reality. These enhanced features, such as being able to have your avatar closely, and eerily, resemble you, can help users boost their social experience on virtual worlds because it's personalized. These features make users feel comfortable as if they are actually in the virtual world. In World of Warcraft (WoW), your avatar was fantasy-like, wasn't really too similar to humans (pictured below, top). In Second Life, your avatar is more human-like than ever as opposed to the avatars in WoW (pictured below, bottom). I think these new innovations make a huge difference to users, especially since Second Life isn't a game like WoW. Non-gamers have access to it and they don't have to worry about completing challenges and all that ru-rah. They can just relax and chill in Second Life, as they would do in real life. We should be appreciative of these new developments and technological advances because these virtual worlds have come a long way.