|by Flemming Funch|
Another type of place to meet in is virtual reality. My favorite place so far is a place called AlphaWorld. About 3-4 years ago I had a lot of fun there and built an NCN Information Center and various other buildings there. And a few other NCN people, like Roan Carratu were hanging out there too, and building buildings next to it. And my kids and all the kids on my street were busy building there. Anyway, all of that still exists, and it could very well be an environment for exploring new civilizations. So, come by and visit if you have a chance. The software unfortunately only works on Windows, but you get it at Active Worlds. It doesn't cost anything if you're only a "tourist" there, but you can't build. The coordinates of our little village is in AlphaWorld at 895N 814W. Let me know if you succeed in going there and I'll meet you.
For those who're mystified about what I'm talking about, it is a 3D virtual environment. There are roads and houses of all sorts, in a large valley amongst some mountains. There's blue sky above and you hear the birds sing. You also hear music coming from nearby houses. You walk around in virtual bodies called "avatars". You can choose what style of body you have. The bodies can walk or run or fly, and can do a few other things, like bow or wave. When you are close to other people you can chat with them, and what people are saying shows up in text boxes above their head.
You can build new buildings. Essentially you pick some lot of unused land and you just start building. You've got lots of different building materials and pieces to choose from. Once you're building somewhere, nobody else can build there. But they can build something next to you.
Now, there are interesting dynamics that happen in how community forms and how conflicts happen there. You can control the land you're building on, but not the land next to it. So, even if you plan and build a serene temple with water falls and flowers and manicured gardens, if you don't watch it, some kid might build a shrine to their favorite heavy metal rock back next to it, some monstrous skyscraper with large billboards pointing in your direction, and loudspeakers blaring all day. So, you somehow need to work things out with the people around you.
Note that this is technology that is a few years old, but not a whole lot advanced in that area since then. At the time virtual reality was sort of the next frontier and everybody expected that the web would move to some kind of 3D VR environment pretty soon. And, mysteriously, it didn't happen and the technology is rather dormant. It DID happen as far as online games is concerned, but most adults who are browsing the net haven't even been in any virtual reality environment at all.