The last post used the world IS as an idea of defintion. But here is something to chew on.
I dont know abt you , but when I see a yahoo msngr 'Avatar' blink , its a different feeling . Not quite the same as the Windows 'search puppy' blink.
I have never been big on gaming or its online version. When I heard that in Korea players were trading their online wins for real money , it did pique my curiosity.
Ted Castronova at Indiana Univeristy in Bloomington is a pioneer in this study. He's an economist with some interesting takes on what virtual worlds mean.
Check this out.
(Click on REAL on the page)
This always seemed as some kind of 'game' - what put this in perspective is the new online community called Second Life.
Virtual worlds are evolving from games to become more than a game , to become a society . Like an orkut with a physical dimension and voicechat replacing the keyboard.
Get this , the virtual world trade in this economy is worth about the same as the basketball shoe market in the United States.
Indiana University is a pioneer in this study , with the Synthetic World's Institute
The case for research in this field is convincingly made in pages 3 to 9 of this pdf . If you liked the Economist article , you will love this document.
Virtual reality is increasingly being used by Market researchers to study in-store behaviour . Reebok , Nike and any marketer who thinks of himself as cutting-edge is looking to invest in this world.
In the wake of the GooTube deal , Second Life is seen as a strong contender for the next billion bucks shovelled into Web 2.0
The excitement in this field is only bound to continue . Get used to it , someday when all your orkut friends have moved onto a virtual world , you will too.