Academic journals publish special issues on virtual worlds

I am late in relaying this, but Electronic Commerce Research and Journal of Electronic Commerce Research are both planning a special issue on virtual worlds. The CFPs (attached below) sent to the VERN mailing list are so similar that at first glance I thought it was the same journal. JECR’s deadline is this Thursday already, but you might consider submitting a modified conference paper. ECR’s deadline is December 1st. Both issues should come out in August 2008.

As virtual world issues overlap with virtual economy research, both CFPs seem relevant to VERN. I am not part of the electronic commerce research community, so I don’t know which one is a better forum, but in a study published in 2002 both attained a high ranking. ECR is published by Springer, which at least in old school academics is a positive merit. Unfortunately it also means that the articles will not be freely available online. JECR is self-published, but also publishes everything on their homepage, so that more people can actually read it.

Today I also heard (thanks, Mikael!) about a call for 500-word proposals for a Special Issue on Virtual Worlds in Technical Communication, due tomorrow. A cynical person might think that after the popular magazines are starting to get over the virtual world hype, the academic journals are picking it up next. But let’s hope for lots of quality contributions.

Journal of Electronic Commerce Research (JECR): Special Issue on Virtual Worlds

Special Issue on Virtual Worlds
Submissions due: November 1, 2007
Scheduled Publication date: August 2008

The emergence of virtual worlds and Web 3.D change the way of
doing business. Web 3.D is the synonym for Internet-based virtual
worlds, where people can create own 3-D *virtual*
personalities. Virtual Worlds such as Second Life and others are
undergoing an evolution similar to that of the Internet in the
mid nineties and might impact profoundly the way people
cooperate, communicate, collaborate, and conduct business. The
recent entering of companies such as Toyota, American Apparel,
Nissan, or Adidas indicate the upcoming role of this platform for
the next generation of conducting electronic business. This call
for papers is intended to cover a wide range of business and
research topics that fall within the broad description of
activities, challenges, opportunities, applications, innovations
and implications associated with Virtual Worlds as the emerging
new online business landscape.

Purpose of the Special Issue:
The purpose of this special issue is to encourage discussion and
communication of important research issues that underpin Virtual
Worlds as an important aspect of e-commerce and to showcase
interesting and significant research work in this critical area.
Specifically this issues is focusing on business and legal issues
of doing business in Virtual Worlds. Of particular relevance to
the described focus are papers about business models, marketing,
promotion, pricing, customer integration, consumer behavior,
legal, cultural and cross-cultural research. The issue, however,
will not be restricted to these topics; rather, it welcomes
reports of theoretical or empirical research that examines
pertinent business issues related to Virtual Worlds e-commerce.
This special issue will be of interest to researchers,
governments, small and large businesses, marketing and PR
companies among others.

List of possible topics are:
*Product Development and Testing in Virtual Worlds
*Image, Branding, Advertising in Virtual Worlds
*Marketing in Virtual World
*Avatar-based Marketing
*Promotion of Virtual Goods in Virtual Worlds
*Pricing of Virtual Goods in Virtual Worlds
*Selling, Cross-Selling Real and Virtual Worlds
*Business Planning for Non-profits in Virtual Worlds
*Fundraising and Virtual Worlds
*Convergence of Real and Virtual Worlds
*Customer Integration and Virtual Worlds
*Technology, Business, Strategy in Virtual Worlds
*Financial Systems, Investments, Currency Exchange Real and Virtual Worlds
*Emerging Media Presence in Virtual Worlds
*Consumer Behavior, Consumer Acceptance and Virtual Worlds
*Trust, Cross-Cultural Studies and Virtual Worlds
*Intellectual Property, Copyright, Trademarks and Virtual Worlds

Submission of Manustcript:
JECR publishes original empirical research, theoretical and
methodological articles, evaluative and integrative reviews,
field research, business surveys, and application papers of
interest to a general readership. A submission based on a paper
appearing elsewhere (such as conference proceedings or
newsletters) must have major value-added extensions to the
earlier version. For conference papers, it should have at least
30% new material. The submitted manuscripts should follow the
format as suggested in the Submission Guideline found in the
journal website:
Of particular note is that the manuscript should be prepared in
Microsoft Word format. The names, affiliations, and contact
information (i.e., phone, fax, email addresses) of all authors
should be provided only on the cover page. The submitted paper
will undergo a double-blind review. Contributing authors may be
asked to serve as reviewers for the special issue. Authors may
submit completed manuscripts electronically at any time prior to
November 1st 2007 deadline. Manuscripts and questions send to

Guest Editor
Marc Fetscherin, Ph.D.
Rollins College
International Business Department
Winter Park, 32789, FL, USA
Tel: +1 407 691 1759
Fax: +1 407 646 1566

Important Dates:
Deadline for Submission: November 1, 2007
Paper acceptance/rejection: January 15, 2008
Revised paper submission: March 15, 2008
Final acceptance following revisions: May 15, 2008
Publication Date: August 2008

To download the CFP, please visit this website:

Electronic Commerce Research: Special Issue Call / Deadline 1st December


Millions of users from around the globe participate in massive multiplayer
online role playing games (MMORPG), such as Second Life and World of
Warcraft, 3D worlds that are often considered the next generation Web. With
their user base growing at an exponential rate we are already experiencing
the development of a phenomenon that may be as significant as the Web
itself. The rapid development of MMORPGs and metaverses is likely to bring
about significant business as well as social, legal, policy, methodological
and technological opportunities and challenges.

This special issue aims to explore these and contribute to this rapidly
expanding field by focusing on issues relevant to electronic business and
management. Academics and practitioners are invited to submit conceptually
and empirically based original papers addressing areas such as those listed
-Business opportunities and challenges
-Marketing implications
-Identity management issues
-Virtual economies and economic policies
-Virtual entrepreneurship and metaverse ebusiness models
-Developing MMORPGs and related strategies and ebusiness models
-Real money trading
-Consumer and business ethics in metaverses
-Case studies (e.g. Second Life, World of Warcraft etc)
-Human-computer interaction issues in metaverses
-Psychological aspects of participating in metaverses
-Legal issues (e.g. copyright and ownership of virtual property)

The above areas are just indicative and this special issue would welcome
papers discussing other relevant topics. For the manuscripts guidelines
please -visit the journal’s web site. All papers, accompanied by a short
biographical note for each author (approximately 200-250 words per author),
should be -submitted as an email attachment to the Guest Editors (Email: All papers will be double blind refereed.

Important dates:
-Last date for submitting the manuscript: 1st December 2007
-End of the first review cycle: 1st of March 2008
-Tentative date for completing the revised papers: 15th April 2008
-Tentative date for completing the second review cycle: 15th May 2008
-Submission of the final manuscripts for print: August 1 2008

Research on Habbo Hotel: The Ugly Duckling

New Japanese furniture in Habbo Hotel Nicolas Nova over at Terra Nova blogs about an interview of Sulka Haro, a lead designer for Habbo Hotel. Habbo Hotel is a virtual world in the same league of popularity with World of Warcraft. Using the Linden definition, Habbo Hotel has some 80 million “Residents”, far outclassing Second Life. Where, therefore, is the research, asks Nicolas Nova.

My HIIT colleague Mikael Johnson has collected an extensive Habbo data consisting of interviews, surveys and fansite records during the past few years. He’s currently writing his dissertation about user-developer dialogue and hasn’t published much about the data yet. Here are a few links though.

Mikael’s Fansites as Sources for User Research: Case Habbo Hotel is more of a methodological paper, but presents some data as well. Another paper has a short segment on user-created content.

I’ve written a article about Habbo Hotel together with Mikael from a sociology of consumption perspective. It’s been in review for ages, however, and I hesitate to put it online. If anyone is interested, I can send a version by email (vili.lehdonvirta ät

My Master’s thesis also had some twenty pages on HH, mainly describing its history and the economic system. The economy has changed considerably since then, though.

Another thing Nova discusses in his blog post is the boundary nature of Habbo Hotel: it’s not quite a game but not quite a community site either. I guess this is something most virtual worlds have in common. Still, a point worth noting in this direction is that Habbo Hotel is actually part of a larger Habbo concept, which also includes a Cyworldish Habbo Home home page generator with virtual items, and a Pocket Habbo mobile interface with SNS style features. The latter is still in development.

From Nova’s posting, it sounds like Habbo Hotel, with its retro pixel graphics, has been a bit of an ugly duckling among the North American developer and scholar crowd.

P.s. while on the topic of virtual worlds, an upcoming service worth keeping an eye on is Twinity by German developer Metaversum.