More than just time-wasters, virtual worlds online have become a lifestyle for many. Or, better put, a second, virtual lifestyle. Some find them pointless, others ridiculous, but their immense commercial success and huge popular appeal indicate that they are so much more. They are dream worlds that we all want to escape into after a hard day’s work, in which we have no real concerns about the recession, prices rising or corrupt politicians. Here are 10 cool virtual worlds out there on the web.
1. The Sims Online
This is one of the best virtual worlds online that you can find, simply because it’s the same team that gave us the hit game series by the same name. While heavily marketed toward teens and young adults who make up the majority of the user-base, The Sims Online is in no way dissatisfying for other age groups. It features the same type of micro-management as the offline game – make sure your Sim is rested, well-fed and well-socialized and you’ll be having lots of fun with the Sims Online.
2. World of Warcraft
Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft is a complex universe built from a multitude of elements such as fantasy, steampunk, and Sci-Fi with elves and orcs as well as spaceships and other worlds. Players can explore the landscape from a third as well as a first person perspective, can engage in PVP, PVE and RP activities while continuously developing their skills and talents. Some challenges in World of Warcraft require players to band together to defeat certain enemies for XP and rewards. Players can also form or enter guilds and set their features, such as setting up a guild bank or make repairs.
3. The Palace
The Palace is one virtual online world that’s ideal for 40+ Internet users. Jim Bumgarder originally developed it for Time Warner Interactive in 1995. It currently does not have affiliations with any developer. Dedicated users, across a network of servers, run this game in its entirety. The world provides a visual 2D chat space, with photos and original artwork for backdrops. Users can create avatars from any image whatsoever, which makes the world’s best feature its endless number of opportunities for self-expression.
ActiveWorlds was launched in beta in 1995 and made available to general Internet audiences in 1997. General public areas are free of charge, while the ‘citizenship’ subscription costs $6.95 per month. This virtual world has a definite new age, utopian twist. It’s also great for building objects that visually enhance it and provide infinite interaction options. It’s also very international friendly and features many online versions of offline countries.
Runescape was released in January 2001 by developer Jagex as a browser game. Users can run this game on virtually any computer, as it was built on a client server in Java, and access the fantasy world of Gielinor. Players can navigate the map either on foot or with the use of magic spells. The avatars are highly customizable and the most interesting feature, setting your own goals rather than following a linear storyline. Runescape is still going strong today, holding the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Free MMORPG.
Kaneva, which is still in beta, is a cross-platform online virtual world, with a 3D client version and a 2D web browser version. Members get the option to fully customize their avatars, create clubs and interact with the community in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to blogs, forums, and social media platforms. Means of communication made available include audio, video, photos, private messaging, comments, and tags. It’s basically a Facebook-like virtual world with cool visuals.
Dubbed ‘a more evolved 3D chat room’ by reviewers, There.com is a transition step between social platforms to current virtual worlds. The platform has built-in multiplayer games, various socialization and communication facilities and object building tools. Players can use the 3D user-generated items either privately or sell them for in-game cash.
8. Eve Online
Eve Online offers a massive and complex world that it’s only fitting for its theme: space exploration. The star systems players can travel through are in the thousands. Furthermore, as nothing is scripted, users are free to engage against each other in combat and political schemes and even piracy. Players can choose from four different races and build up to three characters. Each race has different bloodlines, giving the characters even more complex characteristics that the player can tune over the course of the game. Freedom and autonomy are the main themes in Eve Online so the possibilities are endless.
9. Virtual Ibiza
If you’re single and consider online dating an option, then Virtual Ibiza is the place for you to hang out at. It’s based on the real-life Mediterranean resort island on the coast of Spain. It’s specifically targeted at the 18-35 demographic, offline clubbers and heavy partiers. Members receive access to email, instant messaging services, games, message boards, mobile ringtones and searchable dating profiles, complete with personal photos and videos. Access to the world is 18+ only.
10. Second Life
Second Life is definitely the most popular out of all the cool virtual worlds online. Launched in 2003, it features free basic accounts and charges $9.95 for additional accounts. There are also premium options available, for those who want to purchase in-game land. They can also have access to a host of other cool options. It offers a great gaming experience. The atmosphere is highly surreal and works great for creative artists and techie types. Many users devote themselves to building in-game items by using a scripting language accessible to people with no previous scripting experience. It’s a complex world, with a steep learning curve, but also tons of fun to offer.
Whether you want to immerse yourself into another world or simply meet and chat with others, these are some cool virtual worlds for you to consider. There are a lot of people on the world wide web who share the same interests as you. So why not get out there and start networking?