"Using Game Design to Make Virtual Events More Social" gives some cool examples how they used text-based MUD-like spaces to create better social interactions at only only conferences.
I buildt somethin along those lines, but far simpler for the 30th birthday of a dear friend of mine during the first wave of the pandemic in april.
It was just a silly little pixel-style map of their flat I made, where you could click an a room on the map to drop into a specific jitsi-session.
We only met in one room in the very beginning to sing once and then spread out and wandered among the different rooms. There were around 25 people at that digital party and I had good conversations with most of them in varying constellations, which was great for an online thingy, because all of those people together in one room would never have been able to have a single conversation.
It's amazing how one map and a few links can create a sense of place at a party, which really helped socially. And somehow even in those online rooms, the weirdest conversations at that party happened in the kitchen...
@tobbsn We used gather.town as a virtual conference space for the IETF 108 meeting in July. I wandered around the hallways a bit and had a few conversations, but it was hard to find people who weren't afk. Best to just email people to meet at a specific time in a specific corner of the map, which kind of defeats the purpose? We were never enough people that breaking out into separate groups would have been necessary.