One of MUD1’s most influential early players, Mark Longley, used to go to London by train fairly regularly. On arrival, he’d take the underground to the stop nearest what ever museum, exhibition hall, or Science Fiction bookshop he was visiting, walk the short distance to his destination, then return the same way. He once explained to me that his geographical knowledge of surface London consisted only of disconnected small areas within a short radius of underground stations, and it was quite a surprise when he looked at a map and discovered just how close some of the stations were in real life.
Virtual worlds with teleports are like Mark’s version of London. They may be huge and packed with interesting things, but if people can use portals, then they’ll never see anything any distance from one. The fact that most virtual worlds (unlike London) rarely have anything worth seeing on the walk between portals only compounds the problem. It’s not so much a virtual world as a collection of virtual sub-worlds.
ZA Designing Virtual Worlds Richard A. Bartle 2003