Request for help: list of virtual worlds

For my final project, I'm trying to figure out what the characteristics of successful virtual worlds are. To help myself do that, I'm trying to think of all the different types of virtual worlds that I can so that I can test my characteristics against them. Can you help me think of ones I've missed (or contest ones I've put on the list)? Here are ones I've thought of so far:

  • chatrooms
  • MOOS
  • MUDS
  • wikis
  • social networks
    • facebook
    • linkedin
  • Twitter
  • discussion boards
  • listserves
  • MMOs
  • reddit(?)
  • Digg(?)



Maybe video games that can link to others? I'm thinking things like Animal Crossing where two players with separate in-game towns can visit each other and interact. Or Dragon Quest IX where you can link up with other players and they can form your party.


It might help to provide your definition of virtual worlds. I mean, there are virtual communities that spring up around or compose/constitute much of what you've listed--is that integral to or synonymous with a virtual world? A virtual world indicates space, so the question becomes What type of space? A space for text? For avatars? (What about textual avatars? Or the consideration of just a user profile pic as an "avatar"?) For immersion/interaction/participation?

I hesitate to call much of what you've listed as virtual worlds. They may be communities (or, as Gee would say, affinity groups), and I suppose that since many are common spaces for the members of said community/group to meet, they could be considered worlds, but that still rubs me the wrong way (without me being able to articulate precisely why at the moment).

Perhaps my view is too narrow, but I'd say MUDs/MOOs/MMOs are the only virtual worlds out of what you've listed, but I think it's important to include Second Life (which is publicized as being not a game, but a virtual world). Each of these presents a textually or graphically described/rendered/presented "world" that exists without anyone present. The world is still a world if empty, right? But can we say social networks, listservs, reddit/Digg, etc. are worlds without any participants?

I'm definitely no authority, but maybe this will help fuel discussion.

Fair enough. Perhaps what I'm

Fair enough. Perhaps what I'm getting at is virtual communities. Your definition of "world" seems to rely on there being some kind of a container for people to communicate in. (As you said in the first paragraph, "space.") Perhaps I can't include all of the things I've listed simply by virtue of the fact that they're too different from each other to allow for a single set of principles that would define what makes them "successful." Helpful background information: one of the texts I'm drawing from is Tharon Howard's Design to Thrive: Creating Social Networks and Online Communities that Last.