Virtual worlds, ludic and non-ludic alike, have become an indispensable element of mediated reality in digitally enabled societies.1 Regardless of ethnic and social background, age, or gender, millions of Internet users now inhabit a wide range of online environments.2 Some of them spend a signifi cant percentage of their work and leisure hours performing ‘Second Lives’, be those in the roles of creative designers, educators, students, researchers, business people, event organizers, tourists, shoppers, or simply vagrants.3 Whereas some prefer the ‘virtually’ limitless behavioral possibilities offered by popular social and creative environments such as Second Life™ (Linden Lab 2003-10), others spend much if not most of their waking hours in highly rule-governed massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment 2004-10). Clearly, however, the social and communicative impact exerted by and through interaction with online environments is such that academic scholarship has fi nally jumped on the bandwagon. Conferences on Second Life (SL) and online/offl ine gaming abound, and both undergraduate and postgraduate curricula have started becoming informed by virtual world and online gaming research. This book is a product of such scholarly engagement in that most of its contributions are based on papers given at ‘Creating Second Lives’, an interdisciplinary, international conference held at the National Institute for Excellence in the Creative Industries, Bangor University, Wales (UK), in October 2008. ‘Most’ is not ‘all’, however, and rather than considering this book as a straightforward proceedings volume, readers are advised to see it as a partly commissioned and hence thematically coherent investigation of the textual and discursive implications of virtual communities.