This paper presents research that engages with virtual worlds for education users to understand design of these applications for their needs. An in-depth multi-method investigation from 12 virtual worlds participants was undertaken in three stages; initially a small scale within-subjects eye-tracking comparison was made between the role playing game ‘RuneScape’ and the virtual social world ‘Second Life’, secondly an in-depth evaluation of eye-tracking data for Second Life tasks (i.e. avatar, object and world based) was conducted, finally a qualitative evaluation of Second Life tutorials in comparative 3D situations (i.e. environments that are; realistic to surreal, enclosed to open, formal to informal) was conducted. Initial findings identified increased users attention within comparable gaming and social world interactions. Further analysis identified that 3D world focused interactions increased participants’ attention more than object and avatar tasks. Finally different 3D situation designs altered levels of task engagement and distraction through perceptions of comfort, fun and fear. Ultimately goal based and environment interaction tasks can increase attention and potentially immersion. However, affective perceptions of 3D situations can negatively impact on attention. An objective discussion of the limitations and benefits of virtual world immersion for student learning is presented.