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CfP: Real Virtual Relationships

A special issue of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research to be published 2017 Q2

Guest Editors:
Richard E. Ferdig (Kent State University, USA), Kristine E. Pytash (Kent State University, USA), Elyse Graham (SUNY Stony Brook, USA), Glenn W. Muschert (Miami University, USA)



Motivation and Scope

We live in an era of digitally-mediated relationships. From finding a spouse online to daily interactions facilitated through social media, it is difficult for many people to imagine building and sustaining both platonic and romantic relationships without technology. Virtual worlds are no strangers to these interactions. Virtual world inhabitants will often initially use the space to develop alternative self-portraits (e.g. Black, Ferdig, DiPietro, Liu, & Whalen, 2009). They then create and maintain relationships with those avatars and other human players out-of-world, with other human players in-world, and with non-player-characters in-world (Ferdig & Pytash, 2012). This can lead to even more complex relationships as they balance their lives and relationships in-world and out-of-world.


This special issue of Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is dedicated to an exploration of such topics in a collection of articles exploring “real virtual relationships” to be published in Q2 (2017). The issue editors welcome empirical and theoretical research from all fields interested in this innovative area including, but not limited to: education, psychology, sociology, digital media studies, computer science, public health, game studies, literature, counseling, religion, family studies, and business.

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

     Relationship building and maintenance in virtual worlds

     Methods for studying digital relationships in virtual worlds

     Economic impact of virtual relationships

     Psychological impact of real-life events in virtual worlds (e.g. birth, marriage, death)

     Education and training through relationships in virtual worlds

     Virtual mentoring and collaboration

     Technological aspects that impact relationship creation, sustenance, and termination

     Love, hate, and other emotional responses to human and NPCs in virtual worlds

     Political ramifications of heterogeneity or homogeneity in virtual worlds

     Empirical case studies of player/user relationships

     The impact of innovative technologies (e.g. AR/VR) on relationships in virtual worlds

     Health and trust within medical virtual spaces

    Analysis of literature featuring characters and their relationships in virtual spaces


Authors are requested to submit an abstract of their proposed paper by March 15, 2017. Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words (references are not included in this word count). We welcome papers from a variety of disciplines and methodologies, and encourage graduate students to submit their research to this special issue. The guest editors are happy to discuss proposals for contributions, please contact Rick Ferdig at rferdig AT for questions prior to submission.

Submission Instructions

Interested authors should submit a 500 word abstract via email to rferdig AT After review by the issue editors, authors will be invited to submit original scholarly papers of 4000-8000 words (including footnotes, references, and appendices) via the JVWR publishing system (see > About JVWR > For Authors). Shorter manuscripts are preferred. Longer ones are optional and should be discussed with the issue editors. Accepted papers will be published online in Volume 10, Number 2 (2017) of the Journal.

Deadlines and Timeline

Authors submit abstracts: March 15, 2017 (via email to rferdig @
Editors return comments on abstracts: March 31, 2017
Authors of invited papers submit full papers: June 1, 2017 (via JVWR system)
Editors return review report and initial decisions: July 1, 2017
Authors of accepted papers submit final versions: July 15, 2017

Publication: August, 2017


Review Process:

Abstracts will be considered by the guest editors.

Full papers will be reviewed by expert referees using the JVWR double-open policy. Double-open policy means that in general, authors do not need to anonymize their papers, and reviewers' identity is also known to authors. For more details about it see JVWR site --> About JVWR --> For Authors --> Our double-Open Policy.

Further Information

The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research (JVWR) ( is an online, open access academic journal that engages a wide spectrum of scholarship. We welcome contributions from the many disciplines and approaches that intersect with virtual worlds' research.


For additional information about the journal, please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Planned Issue


Volume 11, Number 3 (2018)

Theme: Taking Stock and Looking Forward
Call: Pedagogy - Taking Stock and Looking Forward

Issue Editors: Kenneth Y T Lim, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (Prime); Catia Ferreira, Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon
Publication: December 2018
Status: Call closed.




Call for Editors


We are enlisting editors for theme issues.

Call for Editors


Suggested Issues

  • Hardware
  • Impact (on People, Places, and Organizations)
  • Money
  • 3D Printing
  • Bleeding innovations
  • And more...


 How to submit your proposal - see: For Issue Editor



Volume 12, Number 1 (2019)

Theme: Assembled 2019

Call: CfP: General Call for Papers

Issue Editors: TBD
Publication: Q1 2019
Status: Open. Submit any time.