CFP: Consumer Behavior in Virtual Worlds

CFP JVWR Issue on Consumer Behavior in Virtual Worlds

A Special Issue edited by:

Caja Thimm, University of Bonn, Germany
Natalie Wood, Saint Joseph’s University, USA

The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research ( is an online, open access academic 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 continuously 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.

Motivation and Scope

Virtual worlds such as Second Life, IMVU, OpenSim and Google Lively are no longer the preserve of the stereotypical geek, nor are they just technical curiosities which companies, consumers, and other stakeholders in the marketplace can ignore. Gartner, Inc. (2007) estimates that by 2011, 80 percent of active Internet users, including Fortune 500 enterprises, will have a “second life” in some form of virtual world environment. It also seems clear, however, that virtual worlds, in whatever form, will be an expansive system of economic activity and will require an examination in the way in which users are engaged as consumers of both information and products.

Virtual worlds offer rich visual interfaces and real-time communication with other residents. Consumers enter these worlds in the form of avatars – online digital persona that they create. Participation rates are staggering:

  • Habbo Hotel targets 13 -18 year olds and boasts over 92 million registered users and over 8.5 million unique users each month (Sulake Corporation 2008).
  • Gaia Online attracts more than 2 million unique visitors each month with 300,000 of their members logging in for an average of two hours per day (Gaia Interactive Inc 2008).
  • Many Fortune 500 companies including GM, Dell, Sony, IBM and Wells Fargo are staking their claim to online real estate in worlds such as Second Life, and Entropia Universe.
  • In the past 18 months alone approximately $1.5 billion has been invested in companies developing technologies for virtual worlds.
  • Management Consulting Company McKinsey & Company predicts that “Virtual worlds such as Second Life will become an indispensable business tool and vital to the strategy of any company intent on reaching out to the video-game generation” (Richards, 2008)

As individuals effortlessly move back and forth between their real and virtual environments we can only imagine the ramifications for identity formation and the impact these environments will have on consumer behavior.

Submission Instructions

The second issue of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is dedicated to exploring topics related to consumer behavior in general and social identity in particular. We encourage participation from across the disciplinary spectrum from such fields as marketing, consumer psychology, cognitive studies, computer science, information and knowledge management, business and management, sociology, economics, and communications. We strongly encourage submissions that illustrate key findings with examples and case studies; experimental research; innovations; and best practices for the integration of virtual worlds technologies into the day-to-day lives of users.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Avatars, the self and attitude change
  • Consumer motivation and involvement
  • Marketing communication in virtual worlds
  • Social identity in virtual worlds
  • Effective uses of virtual worlds for engaging users
  • Innovative uses and tools in virtual worlds
  • Branding in virtual worlds
  • Ethical practices in virtual worlds
  • Public policy, governance and virtual worlds
  • Taxation and virtual worlds
  • Virtual influence and decision making
  • Economies in virtual worlds
  • Engaging the digital native
  • Cognitive connect in virtual worlds
  • Serious gaming and business
  • Gender and sexuality issues in virtual worlds
  • Sex economy and virtual prostitution
  • Virtual real estate
  • Leadership training and virtual worlds
  • Limitations and/or advantages of consumer activities in virtual worlds
  • Development of new tools and techniques for sales and marketing in virtual worlds
  • Best practices, lessons learned, best innovations tested in virtual world markets

The term “virtual worlds” referred to herein is built upon the definitions explored by numerous authors in the first edition of the Journal. It encompasses online, graphical spaces such as: Second Life, Vside, Active Worlds, HiPiHi, Kaneva, Entropia Universe, Webkinz, Neopets, Club Penguin, Habbo, Whyville, TyGirlz, RuneScape, Cyworld,, and Forterra Systems, as well as, numerous developing and open source platforms.

For Clarification: Full research papers should not be oriented towards an examination of future possibilities in virtual worlds. The Journal offers the formats of monographs, essays, and “think-pieces” that provide the opportunity for the exploration of concepts and possibilities with fewer restrictions than full research papers.

We welcome submissions in the form of full research papers, research-in-brief papers, “think-pieces”, essays, monographs, interactive online exhibits with accompanying detailed descriptions, and other forms of scholarship.

For specific submission instructions and detailed descriptions of the different submission formats visit:

Deadlines and Timeline

  • Abstract – August 20, 2008
  • Full manuscript – September 1, 2008
  • Publication: October 15, 2008

Further Information

Please contact:

Caja Thimm, University of Bonn, Germany, cth AT ifk.uni-bonn DOT de
Natalie Wood, Saint Joseph’s University, USA, nwood AT sju DOT edu