A Typology of Virtual Worlds: Historical Overview and Future Directions

Paul R. Messinger, Eleni Stroulia, Kelly Lyons


Virtual worlds constitute a growing space for collaborative play, learning, work, and e-commerce. To promote study of this emerging realm of activity, we suggest a typology adapted from C. Porter’s (2004) typology of virtual communities. The five elements of the proposed typology include (1) purpose (content of interaction), (2) place (location of interaction), (3) platform (design of interaction), (4) population (participants in the interaction), and (5) profit model (return on interaction). We argue that this five-element typology facilitates identification of (a) the historic antecedents of virtual worlds in gaming and social networking, (b) future applications of virtual worlds for society, education, and business; and (c) topics for future research.


virtual worlds, typology, electronic gaming, online social networking

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4101/jvwr.v1i1.291

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