Geography is just as important in virtual worlds as it is in the real world. While the users of these technologies (e.g. Second Life or World of Worldcraft) may inhabit distinctly different locations IRL (in real life) they interact with a distinct landscape and within very real communities when they are online in virtual worlds. In the US we are oddly behind in certain areas such as mobile technology (mostly thanks to carrier limitations) and virtual worlds (in some ways related to our mobile limitations). Why am I rambling on about this (again)? Well it is because GeoMullah himself twittered (indirectly) about a new journal that has been announced, the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. As you might imagine from our discussions on the topics of Virtual Worlds, Serious Games, and Virtual/Augmented Reality (not the same thing, just didn’t want to type Reality twice…DOH did it anyway) we here at VerySpatial are all about how these technologies will flow back into the real world. There were a few examples at Where 2.0 this year (hopefully we will see more integration of VW and IRL geo next year a la Sue’s work with XNA) but it is just the tip of the cliched iceberg . Just this week we received the registration announcement for the next Virtual Worlds conference (this time in LA) and we even saw David Wortley of the Serious Games Institute at Where this week (just saw him walk by while we were interviewing someone so we couldn’t grab him and talk unfortunately, SGI is really creating a presence). All of this (to me) seems to come back to the need for a publication like the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research which shows the potential to become a great communication tool. I hope that they will have New Media content to support the journal. Screencasts of new projects as well as industry and research news would be great communication tools between issues of the journal.
But wait! There’s more. Great things have a way of being simultaneously developed in different locations so there are other journals that are on the way in this arena including the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds (targeting a 2009 release), The Yale Law Journal’s Pocket Part has a call for papers on the legal and economic impacts of Virtual Worlds, while Wiley’s Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds is up to Volume 19 this year. This is a rich area, full of potential with a wealth of research moving out of some of the traditional arenas thanks to an invigorating shot from commercial interest. Just as the geoweb has kicked off great ideas and amazing innovation, geographic data and representation will get another boost from virtual worlds and serious gaming at some point (heck the globes already have opened the door). You know that we will talk about this again on the podcast, but if you are working in Geography and virtual worlds and will be either at the ESRI UC in August, SEDAAG in November, the AAG in March (09), or just want to connected with like minded folks contact us so we can talk about how we can move from being a few scattered voices in geospatial research to a group with a shared vision (and maybe reduce a little duplication of effort while we are at it).
PS apologies for all of the (parenthetical) statements…its just a side thought type of night