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Tomorrowland: What does the future of online virtual worlds look like?

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Every single year, digital technology takes incredible leaps forward. Can you recall a time when internet connectivity was only available via dial-up? Or mobile phones were used exclusively for phone calls? Cast your mind back a few short years, and the scale of change becomes immediately apparent. But what does the future hold for online virtual worlds? We step into tomorrowland to explore the possibilities!

 

Online Virtual Worlds: The Current Landscape

Online virtual worlds immerse us in an alternative universe – from fantastical lands to simple gardens or cityscapes. Allowing real-time interaction with other users and their avatars, online virtual worlds are shared spaces used for entertainment and education by kids and adults alike. Many virtual worlds are sophisticated and innovative – so how might they develop over the coming years or decades? Is improvement possible?

Improvement within the digital realm is all-but guaranteed – because public interest and investment is continually growing as technology enhances and improves our lives in multiple ways. The gaming industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the US economy – signalling that online virtual worlds are likely to grow too. So what direction do we predict that online virtual worlds will take?

1. They Will Be More Responsive

Broadband connectivity is continually improving – with fibre-optic increasing internet speeds via WiFi, and 4G making our smartphones and mobile devices razor-sharp too. As the nuts and bolts of the internet become more efficient, online virtual worlds will need to keep up. In future, they will produce faster, more responsive experiences – emulating cause-and-effect in the real world. An interaction in a virtual world will be just as immediate as a face-to-face interaction, making their uses far more effective.

2. Their Uses Will Be Expanded

While online virtual worlds are already applied for uses beyond entertainment, the coming years will see this expanded application grow even further. Education is likely to be one of the biggest uses – with more and more virtual worlds facilitating learning for children and adults. We predict that entire courses will be available to study via virtual worlds in the future! In addition, there is growing speculation that virtual worlds will be used in business – perhaps even with a money-earning capacity for users.

3. They Will Become Part of Society

Just as Facebook has managed to blur the lines between real-world and online friendships, virtual worlds will also become a greater part of society as a whole, as time goes on. Online virtual worlds already draw parallels with the external world – allowing users to communicate and react in real time. With better graphics and more sophisticated virtual world communities, the societal aspect is only set to grow.

As for you – what would you like to see from online virtual worlds in the future? What are your predictions for the coming years?

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