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Some, such as Second Life and Active Worlds, put you in 3D-rendered environments with first person points of view in an attempt to approximate virtual reality.Others, such as Gaia (“the world’s fastest growing online world hangout for teens”) and Barbie Girls, use sprites (two-dimensional pre-rendered figures) to provide a bird’s-eye view of characters moving around in largely static settings.The services meant for general audiences lack such restrictions and theoretically can be enjoyed by all types of people, although this freedom often translates into behavior that would be utterly inappropriate for children.Second Life, for example, does not explicitly promote adult behavior but has become notorious for it nonetheless.In some situations, such as at a dance or a party, flirting is the only way to open the door to a romantic relationship with someone you don't know and might not otherwise ever see again.
The chart in this post provides a basic comparison of these services to convey the range of virtual hangouts that currently exists.
Embracing the more voluptuous side of human behavior, services like Red Light Center are professedly all adult, all the time and encourage users to participate in explicit behavior.
Virtual hangouts range not only in the audiences they target but also in the level of immersion they provide.
Some commentators even believe that the type of experience provided by these destinations could very well become integral to the forthcoming Web 3.0 era.
The newly released Multi Verse platform, which is designed for the creation of online 3D worlds, certainly anticipates a future in which developers demand the tools necessary to build niche virtual communities because such communities have gone mainstream.