Review: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds

I just purchased a PDF download from the Association of Virtual Worlds (an organization that provides networking and other resources primarily to business and education enterprises), called A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds. It’s basically a list (over 375 listings total) of grids, but also includes social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, as well as content sharing sites like Flickr. I also noticed it includes 3Ds Max, which is a 3D graphic design and rendering program, not really a virtual world in the sense that anyone else can share a space. The entries are extremely concise, with not more than a sentence or two of description. They are not rated, but they have a screen shot (usually a home page) for each and they do add category designations (e.g., adult, teen, kids, games, enterprise, MMPORG, social network, etc.). The list itself is alphabetical, which is fine if you want to look something up. It would be a more useful book if the user could interact with and sort the listings—a natural advantage of a database over a printed directory. The PDF is searchable, but that doesn’t allow for sorting and filtering the listings. I presume it was decided to go with a static PDF in order to make it a marketable commodity. (They obviously sold me on it… )

AVW Consumer Guide to Virtual WorldsOn first glance I’ve already noticed a few errors, including some really outdated information. I get the impression that the editors did not look very closely at a lot of these sites. For example, I looked into OpenCroquet a few years ago. It’s an open source platform for developing virtual worlds. Development on that project effectively ended upon its release, with new development happening using the Croquet foundation to branch off with the OpenCobalt project. You can go back and get the OpenCroquet source and start over from there, but I don’t know why anyone would.

There are other errors such as the listing for AlphaWorld, with an image and link to ActiveWorlds. This is not technically incorrect as AlphaWorld was a former name for ActiveWorlds (it was renamed in 1995) and remains the largest virtual space withing ActiveWorlds. The listing is simply not sufficiently descriptive and the link is not helpful.

If this were a print publication it might have gone through some more rigorous proofreading and fact checking. Its primary usefulness lay in its scope. There are a lot of virtual worlds out there and more popping up every day (another reason to make a list like this more dynamic). If nothing else, it may stimulate some thinking about the breadth of the metaverse.

The download is $5.99 from:

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