Lessons Learned: Social Interaction in Virtual Environments

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Abstract

With the goal of studying online community, we created two multi-user virtual environment products [1], Microsoft V-Chat [2] in 1996, and the Virtual Worlds Platform [3] in 1998. We analyzed the social interaction that developed in these virtual environments and were particularly interested in better understanding what factors contribute to sustaining online community. Drawing from the design and evolution of physical cities [4] we believed an online community must be able to change over time and evolve the space within a flexible infrastructure. Over the past six years we have learned a number of lessons about the design of community and the effects of design.