Distance matters: Exploring proximity and homophily in virtual world networks

Yun Huang*, Cuihua Shen, Noshir S. Contractor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Distance has long been a powerful force that influences the ways in which we organize our personal relationships and collaborations. In the past two decades, globalization and the advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have brought profound changes to the formation and maintenance of communication networks in contemporary work and social settings by eliminating the constraints of physical distance on human interaction. To study the role of distance in ICT-enabled virtual worlds, we propose three dimensions of proximity - space, time, and homophily - and analyze the impact of distance, time zones, gender, age, and game age on building collaborative relations in online games. The results show that spatial proximity, temporal proximity, and homophily in age and game age still have a strong impact on players' behavior in creating online relations in virtual worlds, however, there is no evidence of gender homophily. This study suggests that offline proximity plays an important role in bringing people together in virtual worlds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)969-977
Number of pages9
JournalDecision Support Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Distance
  • Homophily
  • Online games
  • Proximity
  • Virtual collaboration
  • Virtual worlds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Information Systems and Management


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