Jun 122008

As virtual worlds begin to move from the fringe to the mainstream, there is considerable excitement and hype surrounding the movement. But it does beg the question: what real value do virtual worlds present to users and businesses?

An upcoming issue of Cutter IT Journal will address this question. We will examine virtual worlds in terms of market opportunities, strategic approaches, technological options, and the value and impact virtual worlds will have in the real world today and in the future. We invite anyone who is interested to send us an abstract for consideration.

Cutter IT Journal Call for Papers

Finding the Real-World Value in Virtual Worlds: Issues and Challenges

Virtual worlds are a hot topic now, thanks to the increased computing and graphic capabilities of personal computers, high-speed Internet access, and intense corporate interest in exploring and exploiting these worlds. These 3D, interactive Web environments are said to deliver an immersive experience that is much richer than what we currently experience with the traditional Web. So is the Web poised for its next major evolution? According to the Association of Virtual Worlds, the answer is yes: “Virtual worlds represent a major information and technological revolution in how we work, play, and live.”

It’s true that virtual worlds are emerging as communal places for a wide range of activities, including gaming, social networking, education and training, marketing, and e-business. Major businesses and large marketers have been using virtual worlds in innovative ways to appeal to the hard-to-reach young consumers of the digital generation, who spend much of their time using computers and mobile phones. The growing presence of virtual worlds, including those specifically targeted at kids and teens, has been drawing much attention from the media, the public, business, and government.

As virtual worlds now begin to move from the fringe to the mainstream, there is considerable excitement and hype surrounding the movement. A key question is: what real value do virtual worlds present to users and businesses? While the value may be obvious to some, there are several issues associated with virtual worlds that cause varying degrees of anxiety among stakeholders. These concerns — which range from the technical (e.g., security) to the moral and legal — limit the potential of virtual worlds and hinder their adoption.

Nevertheless, some argue, virtual worlds are here to stay. Indeed more people — from kids to teens to young adults — are spending an increasing amount of time in virtual worlds engaging in a variety of activities that interest them, including playing games, communicating with a group of friends, creating virtual artifacts, studying, undergoing training, renting or purchasing land or buildings, buying virtual artifacts, and/or establishing their businesses. According to some estimates, multibillion-dollar opportunities might be there for the taking in the virtual-world arena. Therefore, IT and non-IT businesses, IT professionals, business executives, and entrepreneurs shouldn’t dismiss virtual worlds as simply another platform for online games targeted at young people. Instead, they should examine and explore how they can exploit virtual worlds and seize the opportunities these immersive environments present.

IT departments in many enterprises are now being asked to explore how their organizations can embrace virtual worlds and create, deploy, regulate, and monitor these virtual-world applications. Corporations and venture capitalists are eager to invest in promising virtual-world technologies and services. Major IT companies, startups, public relation companies, marketers, consultancies, educational institutions, and individuals are all trying to get a slice of the seemingly vast business potential that virtual worlds offer. Several IT companies have begun developing virtual-world applications, tools, and platforms.

The September 2008 issue of Cutter IT Journal will explore this new space in cyberspace. We will examine virtual worlds in terms of market opportunities, strategic approaches, technological options, and the value and impact virtual worlds will have in the real world today and in the future.

TOPICS OF INTEREST MAY INCLUDE (but are not limited to) the following:
  • Will virtual worlds truly be another breakthrough technology that affects our personal, social, and professional lives, or will they be the next bubble to burst?
  • What value do virtual worlds provide? Why do virtual worlds draw so much interest not only from users, but also from businesses, educational institutions, and governments?
  • How are virtual worlds currently being used? What is their real potential?
  • What opportunities do virtual worlds present to IT (and non-IT) businesses and professionals, and how can we exploit those opportunities?
  • What technologies support virtual worlds? What are suitable IT architectures for large virtual worlds?
  • Consider the key issues and challenges that virtual worlds present (privacy, security, identity management, taxation, etc.). How can we address them?
  • What are the ongoing developments in this area, and what does the future hold for virtual worlds? Can virtual worlds give rise to a new set of applications?
  • Will there be a much bigger revolution of business ideas and processes with the emergence of immersive 3D Web environments?
  • How can the performance and usability of virtual worlds be improved? What virtual development strategy would you follow? Given the concerns about the poor reliability and performance of some virtual worlds, how can you test and evaluate a virtual-world application before deployment?
  • What will be the economic and social impact of existing and emerging virtual worlds? Does one’s behavior and experience in a virtual world affect one’s real-world life?
  • What have we learned so far by analyzing the successes and failures in this space? What are the success factors?
  • How can IT help in protecting privacy and intellectual property in virtual worlds?/li>
  • Is virtual commerce (v-commerce) viable?


Please respond to San Murugesan, san1[at]internode[dot]net, with a copy to itjournal[at]cutter[dot]com, by 20 June 2008. Include an extended abstract and a short article outline showing major discussion points.


Accepted articles are due by 31 July 2008.


Most Cutter IT Journal articles are approximately 2,500-3,500 words long, plus whatever graphics are appropriate. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact CITJ’s Group Publisher, Christine Generali, at cgenerali[at]cutter[dot]com or the Guest Editor, san1[at]internode[dot]net. Editorial guidelines are available.


Typical readers of Cutter IT Journal range from CIOs and vice presidents of software organizations to IT managers, directors, project leaders, and very senior technical staff. Most work in fairly large organizations: Fortune 500 IT shops, large computer vendors (IBM, HP, etc.), and government agencies. 48% of our readership is outside of the US (15% from Canada, 14% Europe, 5% Australia/NZ, 14% elsewhere). Please avoid introductory-level, tutorial coverage of a topic. Assume you’re writing for someone who has been in the industry for 10 to 20 years, is very busy, and very impatient. Assume he or she will be asking, “What’s the point? What do I do with this information?” Apply the “So what?” test to everything you write.


We are pleased to offer Journal authors a year’s complimentary subscription and 10 copies of the issue in which they are published. In addition, we occasionally pull excerpts, along with the author’s bio, to include in our weekly Cutter Edge e-mail bulletin, which reaches another 8,000 readers. We’d also be pleased to quote you, or passages from your article, in Cutter press releases.
If you plan to be speaking at industry conferences, we can arrange to make copies of your article or the entire issue available for attendees of those speaking engagements — furthering your own promotional efforts.


No other journal brings together so many cutting-edge thinkers, and lets them speak so bluntly and frankly. We strive to maintain the Journal‘s reputation as the Harvard Business Review of IT. Our goal is to present well-grounded opinion (based on real, accountable experiences), research, and animated debate about each topic the Journal explores.



Christine Generali

Christine Generali is a Group Publisher for Cutter Consortium - responsible for the editorial direction and content management of Cutter's flagship publication, Cutter IT Journal.


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