A Collaborative Virtual Environment or CVE is a distributed, virtual reality that is designed to support collaborative activities. As such, CVEs provide a potentially infinite, graphically realised digital landscape within which multiple users can interact with each other and with simple or complex data representations.
CVEs are increasingly being used to support collaborative work between geographically separated and between collocated collaborators. CVEs vary in the sophistication of the data and embodiment representations employed and in the level of interactivity supported.
It is clear that systems which are intended to support collaborative activities should be designed with explicit consideration of the tasks to be achieved and the intended users' social and cognitive characteristics.
In this paper, we detail a number of existing systems and applications, but first discuss the nature of collaborative and cooperative work activities and consider the place of virtual reality systems in supporting such collaborative work. Following this, we discuss some future research directions.