Surveying the Virtual World: A Large Scale Survey in Second Life Using the Virtual Data Collection Interface (VDCI)
Technology has always introduced changes in the way researchers administer surveys. A new technology known as virtual worlds has now emerged that promises to change data collection once again. Virtual worlds are persistent, online, computer-rendered spaces populated by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people at a time. Previously, this population has only been surveyed in ways that required respondents to exit the virtual world before giving their answers. No survey method has existed whereby they could be surveyed while remaining present in the virtual space. Needless to say, this is less than ideal for any survey about the respondent's attitudes, perceptions, and behavior within the virtual world itself. This study introduces a method for solving this problem and a tool that allows surveys entirely within a virtual environment. The method is introduced as Virtual Assisted Self Interview (VASI), and the tool for implementing it, the Virtual Data Collection Interface (VDCI). The tool was created and deployed in the virtual world Second Life (SL), where users were asked questions about demographics and quality of life. The valid response numbers for the survey (N=2094) make it the largest in-virtual-world data collection seen so far. This paper discusses the VDCI and describes several different samplingmethods, as well as results that provide unique, new insights into virtual world populations. It is found, for example, that the demographic make-up of SL is unlike that of other virtual worlds. Moreover, the SL population is unlike that of other worlds in its approach to gender-switching. The limitations and new hazards of virtual world survey research are also discussed, especially survey "hacking" by individuals hoping to exploit the survey for financial gain. Despite the challenges, the results generally suggest that the VDCI is a valuable new research tool for obtaining representative data on virtual world population.
|Date of creation:||2009|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Mohrenstraße 58, D-10117 Berlin|
Web page: http://www.diw.de/en
More information through EDIRC
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:diw:diwddc:dd44. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bibliothek)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.