VIRTUAL WORLDS & SOCIAL INTERACTION DESIGN

Diploma

Abstract

This dissertation is a study of social interaction in virtual worlds and virtual world design. A virtual world is a synchronous, multi-user system that offers a persistent spatial environment for iconically represented participants. Together, these form an example of social interaction design. I have applied an arena perspective on my object of study, meaning that I focus on these sociotechnical systems as places.

I have investigated the persistent qualities of social interaction in virtual worlds. What I have found is that virtual worlds are as real as the physical world. They are filled with real people interacting with each other evoking real emotions and leading to real consequences. There are no fixed boundaries between the virtual and physical arenas that make up a participant’s lifeworld.