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Chapter 1. Introduction to Virtual Worlds > What They Are and Whence They Came

What They Are and Whence They Came

Although more abstract versions can, and do, exist, most virtual worlds adhere to certain conventions that distinguish them from related non-real spaces. The most important of these are

  • The world has underlying, automated rules that enable players to effect changes to it (although not to the rules that grant them this ability). This is the world's physics.

  • Players represent individuals “in” the world. They may wield partial or total influence over an army, crew or party, but there is only one game entity that represents them in the world and with which they strongly identify. This is their character. All interaction with the world and other players is channeled through characters.

  • Interaction with the world takes place in real time. When you do something in the world, you can expect feedback almost immediately.

  • The world is shared.

  • The world is (at least to some degree) persistent.


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