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What is the Difference Between a Static and Dynamic Virtual World?

R. Kayne
R. Kayne

A virtual world is an interactive, computer-generated, three-dimensional (3-D) environment. It is provided by a client or software program and can be a static or dynamic virtual world.

In a static virtual world, the environment is pre-created and limited to the author’s original code. Though one can use an avatar to move about in a static virtual world and interact with monsters, other objects, and other characters, with enough experience, a static world can become predictable. This distinguishes it from a dynamic virtual world, which is always in change. In a dynamic virtual world, the environment is subject to continual development and expansion from user-intervention through built-in creation tools. The dynamic virtual world, used for virtual communities rather than gaming, is an ever-changing world that can never be completely known, because at any given moment, participants are forging new objects or landmasses within it.

Avatars are used to move about in a static virtual world.
Avatars are used to move about in a static virtual world.

One example of a dynamic virtual world experience is offered by In the Second Life environment, residents can buy a “land parcel,” build a home, and thus create a permanent fixture in the landscape. As other residents buy land parcels nearby to build their own homes, the landscape expands. There are also business districts, islands, and other interactive environments. Residents “own what they buy” in the dynamic virtual world, so private landscapes cannot be changed by another user.

It is this concept of private ownership in a dynamic virtual world that gives it a consistent core structure or base, which is constantly expanding outwards. Users are free to dynamically change aspects of the virtual world they own, while they can travel through parts of the landscape they do not own. The dynamic virtual world mimics a developing real-world city or country in this way.

The advantage of a dynamic virtual world is that it is always fresh. Gaming companies using static virtual worlds have found a way to offer a dynamic experience through expansion packs. These packs provide additional landscapes and challenges that one can download to augment existing games.

The appeal and success of virtual worlds - as measured by the popularity of gaming over past decades and membership in dynamic virtual communities more recently - is tremendous. Whether a static or dynamic virtual world, computer technology has created an astounding experience for gamers and virtual reality enthusiasts alike. Trends suggest that this popularity will lead to incorporation of real-world commerce, corporate training, and banking within dynamic virtual communities. From there, it seems anything is possible.

Discussion Comments


I find it a bit crazy that people actually use real money to make purchases in a static or dynamic virtual world. All you're paying for is basically some pixels on a screen! I just don't get it.

I mean, I suppose it makes sense for the people who create these virtual worlds to charge money. It must take a pretty good amount of time to come up with this stuff. But would I personally pay money to participate in a virtual world? No, definitely not.


@Kaboom - A dynamic virtual world could be a really good opportunity for online job training.

I also think free dynamic virtual worlds provide a great opportunity for sociologists. Since they seem to develop like cities do in the real world, they could provide an interesting setting for sociologists to study human interaction. I imagine they would find that people behave much differently in a virtual world than they do in real life. After all, in a virtual world you can be completely anonymous.

But then again, I'm sure people retain some of the same personalities in their online personas. I imagine many people use their virtual personas to act out impulses they already have in real life.


I think a dynamic virtual world could have a lot of really great practical applications. That being said, I find both static and dynamic virtual life gaming to be kind of weird. I feel like some people use it as a replacement for real socializing, you know? Most of the people I know who are gamers spend hours a day gaming! I don't think that can be healthy.

But anyway, the practical applications for something like this could be great. For instance, you could use a dynamic virtual world for corporate training. It would be perfect, since you can change the parameters all the time. Much like real life.


@KoiwiGal - That's true for a lot of people, I guess, but I have tried different kinds of dynamic games and I still don't like them very much. They are all that kind of "sandbox" style game where you can run all over the place and do what you like, and I guess it just gets too much for me.

I'd rather have a somewhat linear game, where I know what I'm supposed to do next, and there is a proper end to the game.

I know it's all "wasting" time anyway, but those kinds of games seem like even more of a time sink than normal, static games to me.


I never thought that I would like a dynamic game world. Whenever I read about them they sounded like they were confusing, and to some extent like they were just an exercise in virtual redecorating. I guess what I mean is that they sounded like work, rather than fun.

But, you know they can be really addictive. I decided to try out Farmville which is that dreaded Facebook game and it was really difficult to give up. Even though all I was doing was basically decorating and looking at other people's decorations.

And I know it's not even a very good version of that kind of game. I imagine some of the better ones are probably a lot more fun to play than I gave them credit for.


I think quite a few online virtual worlds seem to have a hybrid balance between static and dynamic formats. Often the general world where you will be completing quests and spending most of your time actually playing the game and interacting with other people is static, because that makes it easier to control and less expensive to run.

But they also allow people to have a separate area to themselves, which may or may not be open to others.

This area is customizable by the individual players. That way they get some choice in some aspects of the game, without being able to change the bits that everyone uses.

I guess that's close to what the real world is like as well. You might not have much power over your city, but you can change your own house as much as you like (within reason and council codes).

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    • Avatars are used to move about in a static virtual world.
      By: aid corporation
      Avatars are used to move about in a static virtual world.