“Life in Virtual Worlds: Plural Existence, Multi-modalities, and Other Online Research Challenges,” American Behavioral Scientist, Vol.43, No.3, 435-449, 1999.[PDF]
Virtual environments present researchers with a range of methodological considerations, both new and old. With the advent of embodied online worlds, experiences with distributed presence, anonymity and multiple modes of engagement increasingly become the norm. Avatars and their textual counterparts lead us to critically encounter how research can be most meaningfully handled given a terrain in which users are actually embodying themselves digitally, and often in multivalent ways. This article discusses some of the theoretical issues at stake in this form of research, as well as providing several grounded practices to help methodologically negotiate virtual worlds.