I wonder whether an avatar qualifies as a virtual world in and of itself? That is, it need not be seen as just a vehicle for moving through virtual spaces, or as a communication device with social presence. (Though an avatar is certainly these things.)
A virtual world might be described as a space, or dimension, which:
- applies a virtual representation that (apparently) complies with real life physical laws,
- is a metaphor of the real world,
- immerses us within a 3D imaginative experience,
- shares a story/narrative of some nature with us.
Perhaps an avatar, our personal metaphor for ourselves, can be a virtual world too? But generally only one individual inhabits an avatar at a time, whereas populations inhabit virtual worlds. It might be fairer to say an avatar can be compared to a small celestial body? A tiny, virtual satellite moon that revolves around it’s larger host planet?
And now, here is proof that it is possible that once avatars lived in a virtual world that seamlessly meshed with the real world, albeit for a brief period of time! Take a look at The Last Debutantes on the BBC website.