Synthetic worlds cultural classification

This classification presents synthetic worlds from a cultural perspective. The main interest here is to classify MMORPGs or virtual worlds asking for their genre, the main activities performed in the specific synthetic world as well as the offered cultural setting. Game engines are of minor relevance here, but nevertheless offered as they may indicate a certain type of used technology and therefore "age" of the game.

At the moment, 154 synthetic worlds are registered in this classification.

Cultural classification:


  • Faceted classification: this classification was built using a faceted classification. A faceted classification allows the assignment of multiple classifications to an object (synthetic world), enabling the classifications (like this one) to be ordered in multiple ways. In contrary, a taxonomy has a single, pre-determined order.
  • Synthetic world: Besides the real world, we observe the steady growing of virtual worlds. ‘Virtual world’ is actually the most used term for a cultural phenomenon that is sometimes also called ‘MMOG’ (massively multiplayer online game), ‘MMORPG’ (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) or ‘synthetic world’. I prefer the term ‘synthetic world’ (Castranova, 2006) because it highlights the fact that these 3D worlds are of human origin, and that they are real in the sense of being a social and economic arena.