Virtual Lives: A Reference Handbook describes the history, development, and role of virtual worlds, also known as virtual environments and immersive virtual environments. It provides detailed background about virtual worlds and their societal impact, from early precursors and inspirations to the latest trends and developments. Specifics on user demographics are included, as are descriptions of virtual worlds' functions, discussion of societal concerns and opportunities, and information about relevant research data and key persons and organizations.
Although virtual worlds in their current form are a relatively new phenomenon, other online social environments have served as precursors for decades and literary inspirations go back even further. This handbook therefore covers some early developments dating back to the mid-20th century. Its primary focus, however, is on developments since the mid-1990s and especially on the current state and social impact of virtual worlds, including their impact both in the United States and around the world.
Dr. Ivory's primary research interests deal with social and psychological dimensions of new media and communication technologies, particularly the content and effects of video games, virtual environments, and simulations. In particular, much of his research focuses on the content and effects of technological features of new entertainment media, such as video games. Dr. Ivory's research is primarily conducted in the VT G.A.M.E.R. Lab, part of the Department of Communication's research facility space.
The Visible Scholarship Initiative is a collaboration between the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the University Libraries that seeks to make visible the stages of research and creative scholarship in the liberal arts and human sciences. Illustrating how faculty address key questions, employ varied methods, and produce significant results makes it possible to acknowledge and encourage research and creative activities that engage challenging questions and demonstrate sophisticated understanding.