Virtual worlds are now a reality. There are over 7 million inhabitants in Second Life, where the average demographic includes more females than males and a median age of 37. Habbo Hotel, which targets the 11 to 18 year-old demographic, cites over 66 million inhabitants globally. Other worlds, such as Club Penguin, Entropia Universe, Cyworld, Neopets, and several more all represent the phenomena collectively known as virtual worlds, which allow everyone to create a digital character representing themselves and to interact with other computer-generated individuals, landscapes, and even virtually-run global businesses in real-time.
Fascinatingly, both endogenously produced economies and social orders are emerging in these virtual worlds. More than $45 million USD is spent in Second Life monthly on virtual assets, with a UK government panel suggesting the need to extend ‘real world’ legal protections to virtual assets while a US government panel says that taxation of virtual assets is ‘inevitable’. This presentation will consider the past, present, and possible future of virtual worlds, in the hopes of raising worthwhile research questions to consider for the future of such immersive spaces.
About the speakers