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June, 2011:

What is a Virtual World?

A virtual world is a computer simulated representation of an environment that allows many users to interact with each other. Commonly this world is based on the real world, but this need not be the case.

As one of the premier virtual worlds, Second Life is vast. Since it is a virtual world, it is effectively unlimited. New land can be made at any time, in fact the world can be made larger by it’s owners (Linden Labs) simply adding more storage capacity to their servers.

To give you some idea just how big Second Life is, you should visit the SLurl website. This is an interactive Google map showing the Second Life virtual world instead of the real world! Try zooming out as far as you can, then panning around an aerial view of the Second Life world. Using the zoom control to zoom into a densely populated area, shows the detailed structures that have been built by millions of users. Locations can exist under virtual water, and islands can float in mid air. You can breath underwater and fly in Second Life!

The size of the second life map is truly vast.


Accessing the SLurl website on an iPhone.

The SLurl website can be accessed on any browser, even a mobile phone! Many people are familiar with URL’s (the Universal Resource Locator that you type into your web browser), a SLURL is simply a Second Life URL. You are transported to a location within the Second Life virtual world when clicking on a SLURL link, instead of being transported to a webpage that exists in the real world when clicking on a URL. Many places and objects within the virtual world link to URL’s in the real world and vice versa.

Secondlife world map

This is the full world view of Secondlife in PC Viewer

Second Life is run by a company called Linden Labs. There are many alternative virtual worlds, the main one being OpenSim, however this is currently at alpha stage of development.

A review of virtual worlds is available starting with the Second Life review. Click the links to virtual worlds on the left hand side to compare them against Second Life.

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