Research Spotlight: Virtual reality, real communication

Second Life retail storeWhy would businesses such as Toyota, Sun Microsystems and Wells Fargo Bank invest good money to create a virtual workplace reality? Ulrike Schultze, professor of information technology in the Cox School of Business, explores game environments and virtual worlds to better understand their communication capabilities for businesses in the real world. Virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, known in the gaming industry as Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), can allow thousands of participants to interact simultaneously and model social interactions that mirror everyday real life. In “Reframing Online Games: Synthetic Worlds as Media for Organizational Communication,” Schultze and co-author Julie Rennecker explore the diversity of synthetic worlds by developing a framework for classifying games into four categories: simulation games, fantasy games, virtual reality and virtual fantasy. In the process, they intend to “debunk the mythical divide between technologies of work and technologies of play.” Read more at the SMU Cox research site. (Right, a virtual retail store created in Second Life.)

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