I’ve been slumming around on There.com lately. It’s a 3D virtual world kind of thing.
I read BoingBoing.net every day, and one of the editors, Cory Doctorow, frequently mentions the comings and goings in the online 3D world Second Life. I bought a $10 membership to the place about a year ago but never used it. A few weeks ago, after having upgraded the guts of my PC, I decided to check it out. Maybe I had totally missed out on the reason for its appeal.
Well, I didn’t. At least to me, the place just plain stinks. It’s a virtual world that takes from the worst elements of the real world–sex, vanity, gambling, materialism and consumerism–and lets people go completely out of control with them. Practically every other user-created building in Second Life is a store selling slutty fashion for women. The irony of spending real money on more virtual property than anyone could ever need is completely lost on these people. And all the cybersex that goes on, along with the necessary equipment and scripts to support it, had me scratching my head and wondering, “What is WRONG with these people?” The worst part is the 3D physics and graphics were state-of-the-art about eight years ago.
So I decided to give There.com a try. Back in 2003, they blew through $30 million to develop their world and it shows. The landscape and professionally created structures are pure eye candy. The in-world vehicles are a blast to drive. It’s more difficult for users to make money as developers, so for the most part only the most skilled people can make a living at it, so the landscape isn’t so overrun with virtual crap.
What I like best about There.com is that it’s rated PG-13. I can let my kids play in there–supervised, of course–and not worry about coming across a pair of bare naked avatars performing oral sex on each other. The three of us have spent the past two weekends barreling over the landscape in dune buggies and flying over it with a jet back strapped to our character’s back. I met some people from South America and I’ve been able to use my Spanish (my second language) for the first time in ages. I’m trying to convince my sister in the US to sign on so that her two girls and my two boys can play together.
Yeah, so anyway, I’m sure we’ll get bored with it eventually, but for now it’s pretty fun. For about $4 in accessories, I even got my avatar to look like me, right down to my shoes:
Is that a hoot or what?
My username there is “Pavster,” BTW.