Information and Communication Management

Management in the Gaming Industry

The origin of virtual worlds lies in the first implementations of text-based role playing games. In 1979 the first multi-user dungeon (MUD) was programmed (Bartle 2003, pp. 4) and with the spread of the Internet, these computer games became available beyond the frontiers of the university networks. There were four key factors for further investments and the development of new virtual worlds: the enormous growth of Internet connections; decreasing prices for these connections; the immense progress of computer technology and graphical user interfaces; and the development of business models which assured stable revenue streams. Well known examples for successful virtual worlds with hundreds of thousands of users include "Ultima Online" launched by Origin System Inc. in 1997, and "Everquest", launched by Verant Interactive/Sony Online Entertainment in 1999 (Castronova 2005, p. 53). The content of virtual game worlds is often inspired by literature - especially the science fiction and medieval fantasy genres are of great importance. Virtual worlds in this tradition are games in the sense that the user takes over a character, strives to achieve certain game objectives and collects valuable items and experience points on the way. This base structure of game world design can still be found in the latest representatives of this category, for example "World of Warcraft" with its 11 million users. In 1989 the worlds "TinyMUD" and "Zone" were launched. These worlds mark an important offspring in the game world development since they were the first social virtual worlds (Bartle 2003, p. 9). In this tradition, the often cited Second Life and other contemporary social worlds such as “Habbo Hotel” and “There” can be seen. As opposed to game worlds, there are no game objectives in these worlds, the communication aspect come to the fore and the content is designed to a significant part by the users. Because of the multitude of different worlds already in use, it is quite difficult to give a common definition that fits all of them. Castronova (2005, p.11) provides a very general definition when he says that a virtual world is "an expansive, world-like, large-group environment made by humans, for humans, and which is maintained, recorded, and rendered by a computer." Within these environments people interact mediated by their artificial representatives, so-called avatars, with each other and with the world’s objects. The mental experience of being within the world is called immersion and usually leads to the player having a strong identification to his or her avatar. At the Chair of Information and Communication Management, we have the following research focus on Gaming and Virtual Worlds:

  • Analysis of value chains and value creation processes
  • Development and operation processes
  • Opportunities for innovative business models 
  • User behaviour and acceptance