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Virtual reality (VR) is typically defined in terms of technological hardware. This paper attempts to cast a new, variable-based definition of virtual reality that can be used to classify virtual reality in relation to other media. The defintion of virtual reality is based on concepts of "presence" and "telepresence," which refer to the sense of being in an environment, generated by natural or mediated means, respectively. Two technological dimensions that contribute to telepresence, vividness and interactivity, are discussed. A variety of media are classified according to these dimensions. Suggestions are made for the application of the new definition of virtual reality within the field of communication research.