Dear Mr. Joe Sanchez,
It is so crazy to read through your article about the history of virtual worlds and see how far we've come in technology. It's so funny to think that the first MUDs were text-based and that the interactions, environments, and communication all occurred without graphics. I am using Second Life for my Digital Communication, Information, and Media minor class called Self and Society in Virtual Contexts, and I would have never imagined that I would be using an avatar to meet with my classmates in a virtual classroom.
The difference between World of Warcraft and Second Life is that in Second Life, players, or residents, of these worlds tend to build, socialize, collaborate, and design as opposed to participating in quests or engaging in combat, and I think the interest of Second Life continues to prevail because humans can relate so well to the way avatars live in the virtual world. And in Second Life there is an entrepreneurial essence within the game, and many residents run virtual businesses selling clothing, vehicles, homes, or furniture, and that hits us really close because it's so relevant to humans. My cousin owns a company called Makatto which is a site where you can create your own virtual 3D store to sell your items, and there's no posting fees. It's like your own e-bay/consignment store but you get to virtually create and design your own store online.
The thing about virtual worlds I think is the fact that it's a manipulation of a world according to time. Interaction occurs in real time and users experience immediacy, but it's also a persistent world because we can log out or quit any time and still have the world right there for us. We can emerge in the fantasy world depending on our schedule. Your mirror affect theory of how “what were once fantasy worlds over time became mirrored worlds: worlds complete with social and financial dynamics that seeped out from cyberspace into real space” truly demonstrates how Second Life is the prime example of the co-evolution of virtual world technology and user experiences.