Virtual World Interoperability: Let Use Cases Drive Design

Jon Watte

Abstract


Virtual worlds are slowly creeping into our daily lives. While some early
adopters have been using them for entertainment, research and training
over the last 20 years, virtual trade shows and online conferencing with
user avatars are putting them front and center on the desktops of workers
around the world. However, while a "walled garden" virtual world may be
useful in and of itself (just like a cell phone being able to call other
cell phone customers using the same carrier), the real usability
explosion will come when the different virtual worlds start talking to
each other (just like cell phones being able to call any phone number in
the world, no matter who the destination carrier or operator is).

This article will examine the history of virtual world interoperability
as evidenced through early systems like DIS and HLA, current systems such
as Second Life / OpenSim teleport and OLIVE simulation interoperability,
and will examine some common use cases for the future, interconnected
metaverse. Based on this learning, a comprehensive approach to
standards-based virtual world interoperability is described, and the
article ends with a call for action.

The author has a unique depth of perspective on virtual worlds
interoperability, having worked with a variety of technologies ranging
from military simulation all the way to massively multiplayer online
games, having worked for a leading virtual world platform provider
since 2001, and having shipped public virtual world interoperability
solutions since 2005.

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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org