The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research: A Serious Look at Virtual Life

November 25th, 2008  |  Published in SLENTRE.COM Magazine Feature Articles  |  1 Comment

by Sigmund Leominster, News Editor
The Second Life™ virtual world is, as we know, one of a number of online environments available to consumers. And it would not be unfair to characterize press coverage in general as tending toward an emphasis on the prurient and scandalous. The recent case of real life couple David and Amy Pollard, whose marriage has ended in divorce after he was found cheating with a Second Life co-respondent, Modesty McDonnell, has been covered internationally by many newspapers, TV stations and bloggers. In contrast, cases of Second Life intellectual property theft rarely make it past the pages of Second Life bloggers. And though the case of Stroker Serpentine (real life=Kevin Alderman) and his sex beds did make mainstream news, doubtless the implicit sexual angle enhanced its appeal as a “newsworthy” item.
The new Journal of Virtual Worlds Research offers a different angle – attempting a more sober and scientific analysis of virtual worlds. It is worth quoting the journal’s scope of practice in full in order to appreciate the gravitas of the publication:
“The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is an online, open access academic journal that adheres to the highest standards of peer review and engages established and emerging scholars from anywhere in the world. The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is a transdisciplinary journal that engages a wide spectrum of scholarship and welcomes contributions from the many disciplines and approaches that intersect virtual worlds research. The field of virtual worlds research is a continually evolving area of study that spans across many disciplines and the JVWR editorial team looks forward to engaging a wide range of creative and scholarly work.”
The open access policy means that it is available to anyone and there is a free subscription to regular e-mail updates. Submission involves a peer review process, with each article being reviewed by two “experts in the field,” and a target publication in under ten weeks for articles of 25 pages or less. This turnaround time is substantially faster than that of many other journals.
The current editor is Jeremiah Spence from the Department of Radio, TV & Film in the
University of Texas at Austin. Spence is currently pursuing his doctorate and has presented at conferences internationally on virtual worlds.
Authors are encouraged to submit materials covering a wide range of formats. As well as standard peer-reviewed articles, submissions can include research-in brief papers, essays, monographs, “think pieces,” book reviews, and interactive online exhibits and demonstrations. The current issue of the journal (volume 1, number 2) focuses upon the theme of consumer behavior in virtual worlds, with specific titles such as “Consumer Code: Use-value, Exchange-Value, and the Role of Virtual Goods in Second Life” by Jennifer Martin; “The New Virtual Consumer: Exploring the Experiences of New Users” by Lyle R. Wetsch, and “Having But Not Holding: Consumerism & Commodification in Second Life” by Lori Landay. These are not your typical blog postings or sensationalist rants. For example, in Jennifer Martin’s article, she argues that, “Although there remains a lack of use-value in virtual goods, it is important to note that their consumption should not be read as irrational or meaningless. A significant number of individuals who enter into forms of online engagement highly value their interactions. (p.18).”
Reading through a number of these articles – and for those not used to academic writing, they can be a little dry and formal – is a useful exercise in stepping back from the drama of Second Life and getting a quasi-anthropological view of the virtual environment. SL® entrepreneurs and business people might even glean useful information from the papers.
As a free resource, and with its academic slant, the journal promises to be a valuable addition to the growing body of Second Life media.
The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research:


  1. Beectannecy says:

    August 18th, 2009at 12:51 pm(#)

    Good Evening Guys!

    I found it here. It is a great site for ESL Learning courses.

    I’ve been looking around for ages for a proper solution for ESL Study Course for adults, and I’m so happy that I finally found one!

    Let me know what you think, and I would love to know about other sites offering these kinds of courses, I’m hooked.