Frustration abounds! Lately it seems as though the term “virtual worlds” has morphed to such a wide variety of meanings that it is nearly impossible to go back to “meaning zero.” No longer is one going to understand what I mean when describing a virtual world, instead most folks have fallen victim to confusing articles and experiences resulting in many different visions of what a virtual world is. It is a shame that it has come down to this and a few months ago I thought it would iron itself out…alas. The social gaming applications are overtaking the term/ meaning of virtual worlds (and no I do not consider Farmville on Facebook to be a virtual world). These social games are giving virtual worlds the wrong image in people’s minds, which is very unfortunate. These iPhone types of game applications are simplistic in nature, non-immersive and frankly just a graphically unimpressive experience. Sure, I could just settle on ‘serious virtual worlds’ instead, but compared to Farmville, what is considered serious nowadays?
Yes they are more fantasy like virtual worlds- not too much mimicking of the real world going on here folks. Oh yes and unrealistic avatars too. YoVille compared to Second Life is like comparing apples to oranges. Social gaming has taken over the real meaning of virtual worlds, more and more users are signing up daily for the likes of World of Warcraft and Habbo. The technology bar has officially been lowered. Facebook and 2D games take things back a few steps in some respects, but that’s where the users and the money are fortunately or unfortunately. Virtual worlds have now gone social and there is no turning back to redefine the term. Immersive, 3D environments must now take on a new name, other than the virtual world term. So maybe it’s virtual training or perhaps even a virtual collaborative environment, time will tell. Regardless, much opportunity abounds for users and producers across training and social gaming/media.