Policy issues for virtual reality

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Shopping at stores in the virtual world Second Life (Image copyright 2003, Linden Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Michael Heim enumerates policy questions relating to the design of virtual worlds (Heim 1998, 82). He invokes Plato's idea about our hunger for more reality than the everyday to explain our fascination with virtual worlds. However, Heim does not give enough weight to more humdrum motivations and purposes. His approach to virtual reality owes more to the striking artistic productions he describes than to everyday activities such as shopping at Neal Stephenson's imagined "The Street" as a virtual mall and meeting place provides a corrective to overly artistic conceptions of the use of virtual worlds (Stephenson 1993).