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Session 3

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 5 months ago

Session 3: The Future of Virtual Worlds


Chair: William Sims Bainbridge


Panel: Diana Rhoten, Wayne Lutters, Henry Lowood, and others.

Location (24,76):

The Old Fort on the side of Booty Bay away from the dock.

 Session Logistics - NB: All times are Earthen Ring US Server Times (= Eastern US time zone)


This session will analyze the future course of development of WoW and other virtual worlds, at a time when many highly involved observers have expressed concern that progress is stalling, even as other observers imagine we are passing a breakthrough threshold, after which virtual worlds will become central to society. The failure of Sims Online, the continuing technical issues with Second Life, and the fact that no other MMORPG seems able to surpass WoW are warning signs. Recall that Active Worlds is over a decade old, and there is little hope that home computers or Internet connectivity will be vastly more capable over the next five years. It is possible that rapid future progress will actually depend upon us, because the success of a virtual world will depend upon the socio-cultural design qualities that make it serve human needs, and our research will contribute to the fund of knowledge supporting innovative design.


Pre-Session Activities (12:00 noon server time):

  • Be a smuggler!  Lunette, Night Elf of the Alliance, will place up for auction two kinds of laboratory animal seldom possessed by members of the Hode - 48 moths from the Exodar, and 48 owls from Darnassus.  You may buy one for 50 silver from either Auctioneer Graves (28,75), Auctioneer Kresky (27,77 lower level) or Auctioneer O'reely (26,76)
  • Read a book! Four readable history books can be found in the lower level storage room (27,77): The Scourge of Lordaeron, The Twin Empires, Wrath of Soulflayer, and Empires' Fall.


12:30 Session, May 11, 2008


Ten questions to begin with:


1. Given that computer technology and Internet have stabilized, are current virtual worlds a technological dead end?


2. Other than WoW's are there really any long-term viable business models for virtual worlds?


3. Would standardization of software-data platforms be revolutionary, permitting migration across many worlds?


4. Could virtual worlds become living memorials for deceased persons, housing AI avatars of them?


5. Will virtual worlds create social and cultural alternatives that then thrive in the "real world?"


6. Which online games will become permanent features of human culture, like chess and Monopoly?


7. Will some virtual worlds declare political independence, like geographically based nations?


8. What as-yet unrecognized social functions could virtual worlds serve?


9. Could augmented reality (e.g. pervasive LARPs) be the next revolution, virtual and real world combined?


10. What will persist into the future from today's virtual worlds?  Will they have a history?



The picture on the left above communicates the science-fiction quality of WoW, the catapult at Toshley's Station.  The place was named after the line in Star Wars: "But I was going into Toshi Station to pick up some power converters..."  The place depicts a location from Starship Troopers, where bugs attack, a mock fascist movie.  The picture on the right shows the session's location, the "sea-side resort" (i.e. pirate town) of Booty Bay.

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