CfP: Real Virtual Relationships

Call for papeers

Published: February 22, 2017

Guest Editors:

Richard E. Ferdig, Kent State University, USA

Kristine E. Pytash, Kent State University, USA

Elyse Graham, SUNY Stony Brook, USA

Glenn W. Muschert, Miami University, USA

A special issue of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research to be published 2017 Q2

Motivation and Scope

We live in an era of digitally-mediated relationships. From finding a spouse online to daily interactions facilitated through social media, it is difficult for many people to imagine building and sustaining both platonic and romantic relationships without technology. Virtual worlds are no strangers to these interactions. Virtual world inhabitants will often initially use the space to develop alternative self-portraits (e.g., Black, Ferdig, DiPietro, Liu, & Whalen, 2009). They then create and maintain relationships with those avatars and other human players out-of-world, with other human players in-world, and with non-player-characters in-world (Ferdig & Pytash, 2012). This can lead to even more complex relationships as they balance their lives and relationships in-world and out-of-world.

This special issue of Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is dedicated to an exploration of such topics in a collection of articles exploring “real virtual relationships” to be published in Q2 (2017). The issue editors welcome empirical and theoretical research from all fields interested in this innovative area including, but not limited to: education, psychology, sociology, digital media studies, computer science, public health, game studies, literature, counseling, religion, family studies, and business.

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

  • Relationship building and maintenance in virtual worlds
  • Methods for studying digital relationships in virtual worlds
  • Economic impact of virtual relationships
  • Psychological impact of real-life events in virtual worlds (e.g. birth, marriage, death)
  • Education and training through relationships in virtual worlds
  • Virtual mentoring and collaboration
  • Technological aspects that impact relationship creation, sustenance, and termination
  • Love, hate, and other emotional responses to human and NPCs in virtual worlds
  • Political ramifications of heterogeneity or homogeneity in virtual worlds
  • Empirical case studies of player/user relationships
  • The impact of innovative technologies (e.g. AR/VR) on relationships in virtual worlds
  • Health and trust within medical virtual spaces
  • Analysis of literature featuring characters and their relationships in virtual spaces

Authors are requested to submit an abstract of their proposed paper by March 15, 2017. Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words (references are not included in this word count). We welcome papers from a variety of disciplines and methodologies, and encourage graduate students to submit their research to this special issue. The guest editors are happy to discuss proposals for contributions, please contact Rick Ferdig at rferdig AT for questions prior to submission.

Submission Instructions

Interested authors should submit a 500 word abstract via email to rferdig AT After review by the issue editors, authors will be invited to submit original scholarly papers of 4000-8000 words (including footnotes, references, and appendices) via the JVWR publishing system (see > About JVWR > For Authors). Shorter manuscripts are preferred. Longer ones are optional and should be discussed with the issue editors. Accepted papers will be published online in Volume 10, Number 2 (2017) of the Journal.

Deadlines and Timeline

  • Authors submit abstracts: March 15, 2017 (via email to rferdig @
  • Editors return comments on abstracts: March 31, 2017
  • Authors of invited papers submit full papers: June 1, 2017 (via JVWR system)
  • Editors return review report and initial decisions: July 1, 2017
  • Authors of accepted papers submit final versions: July 15, 2017

Publication: August, 2017

Review Process:

Abstracts will be considered by the guest editors.

Full papers will be reviewed by expert referees using the JVWR double-open policy. Double-open policy means that in general, authors do not need to anonymize their papers, and reviewers’ identity is also known to authors. For more details about it see JVWR site –> About JVWR –> For Authors –> Our double-Open Policy.

Further Information

The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research (JVWR) ( is an online, open access academic journal that engages a wide spectrum of scholarship. We welcome contributions from the many disciplines and approaches that intersect with virtual worlds’ research.

For additional information about the journal, please contact: [email protected]