Brooke is a 15-year-old from Sunnyvale, CA. She enjoys dancing, swimming, singing, studying languages and her dream is to study, work, or live abroad.
As children of the electronic age, us teens have been using the internet from a very young age. I started playing Neopets the second I turned six! Other popular online games included: RuneScape, Maplestory, Club Penguin, and many others. But, something changed when I began middle school: online 3D chat rooms were the new and cool things to use. Ever since then, I’ve been an avid user of the virtual worlds on this list, some more than others. While most people use them to connect with other teens across the globe and become “friends” with strangers, I much preferred meeting up with people I already knew from the “real world”. Keep in mind that not all people in a virtual world are who they say they are, so never reveal any of your personal information to the public. With that, let’s get to the list (in no particular order)…
Vside was in its hay day from about 2008-2009, but there are still many people who continue to use this virtual world. Originally created by Tyra Banks as a place for teens to “hang out,” there’s plenty of clothing to buy, radio stations to listen to, quests or mysteries to discover, and three different cities to explore. This is a 3D game in which you control your character with the arrow keys on your keyboard. I’d probably say that this is my favorite on the list because there are lots to do, even if you’re not “meeting up” with someone, and it runs exceedingly well on newer computers. I would definitely say to give this one a try because of the many mysteries hidden inside various cities.
Zwinky was very popular around the same time that Vside was. I haven’t used it in several months, but last time I checked in, there were still loads of people using this virtual world. I would say that this is definitely more of a chat-only website. There isn’t much to do besides shop and talk to other people, but if you’re into that, you would love this. The characters are pretty basic and the only way to stand out is to buy wacky outfits. You can control your character by clicking anywhere, and your character will move to that spot. There is one world with smaller, themed sub-worlds (like the dorms, the mall, etc.) inside it. Although there’s not much in the way of exploration and quests, it’s still a fun system to play around with.
IMVU has always been a fairly popular virtual world since it was created. Personally, I don’t like this game at all. It’s exactly what it sounds like: an online chat room. You can buy custom or game-based clothing to beautify your character, but to me, that’s about as exciting as it gets. Basically, it’s just your character sitting or standing in a room (of your choice) with another character. Think of it like an instant message conversation, only with characters to represent you and your friends. That’s about all you can do with IMVU, but if you just want a literal 3D chat room, then you’ll enjoy this program.
4. Second Life
Talk about an obsession! I practically lived on second life in 2008! Second life has never really had a “boom” or “hay day.” There usually aren’t hundreds of people online (in the teen network, at least) as with the other virtual worlds on this list. But the allure of Second Life, in my opinion anyway, doesn’t come from finding people to chat with. For me, it’s all about the creating. Second Life is 3D gaming in every sense of the word. You can practically create anything you want, from clothes to cars to bathtubs; you can even create magical weapons. Oh, and you can fly over it all, which is one of the best parts. Recently, people have been creating reconstructed cities like Paris and Moscow; it’s amazing what you can do with a computer. There’s only one issue- you need a really fast, really new computer. It can take a long time to load buildings and objects simply because there’s so much stuff lying around, not to mention, the other users online slowing the system down. If you have a computer made for gaming, though, you’ll be addicted to this world in no time!
Image of Vside by: ttrinoid on Flickr