Saturday, July 12, 2008

Feeling Lively?

Google's new Lively online world takes a page out of Second Life's book. I'm not sure what the appeal is to sites such as these. I love Web 2.0 as much as anyone else, and I like sharing content, blogging, and staying informed about what's going on around and world and in the lives of my friends. However, watching my avatar stand in a virtual room talking to other avatars just seems like a bore to me. I never really got into the whole chat room thing either. IMing, yes, is fun and useful between friends, but I don't ever go looking for random screennames of people to start conversations with.

I remember a guy in my dorm when I was an undergraduate who used to spend almost every waking hour playing World of Warcraft, and my mom actually knew an older woman who was obsessed with it as well. I've always been a fan of online multiplayer games from real-time strategies such as Starcraft to first-person shooters such as Halo. But I've seen the way people use these MMORPGs and simulated worlds. The guy in my dorm, for example, would just keep his avatar in a common area with other avatars, listening to people attempt to sing and talking smack or flirting with so-called girl players. In fact, he did very little actual accomplishing of missions or leveling up. This behavior seems very similar to what people do in Second Life, and now, Lively.

For me, the purpose behind this phenomenon is lost. I realize, though, that with the buzz generated by virtual worlds in the last few years, there must be somewhat of a market for them out there. What do you think is the appeal? Do you participate in virtual worlds and chat with people? What else do you find yourself doing inside them? Are virtual worlds simply for people without friends in the real world? Please, do leave some comments.

P.S. Oh yeah, Google doesn't have Lively for Macs yet, so I'm predisposed to think it must suck.

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