Interest in virtual worlds from both academic and practitioner perspectives continues to grow. As a relatively new area of research, exploratory efforts to capitalize on and understand this new computer-mediated communications medium have been varied and multi-disciplinary, but also dangerously fragmented. Avatar-based communication distinguishes virtual worlds from traditional communications media and conceptually enables a potentially richer communications medium. Utilizing an integrative theoretical approach drawing from theories of social presence, media richness, media synchronicity, social influence, technology acceptance, and channel expansion, we seek to understand how virtual worlds compare with other communications media. Preliminary results from two phases of a Delphi study with expert participants present interesting findings. While not surprising that face-to-face communications are preferred in a wide variety of situations, what is surprising is that virtual worlds do not appear to be favorably ranked as compared to other leaner traditional communications media. Other results, implications and directions for future research are discussed.
Goh, Samuel H. and Paradice, David B., "Collaborative Worlds and Avatar-Based Communication: A Comparison of Virtual Worlds with Traditional Computer-Mediated Communications Media" (2008). AMCIS 2008 Proceedings. 23.