With the success of Second Life, virtual reality simulations have come into their own in the past 5 years. Promising users an experience that transcends the limitations of real life, a virtual reality sim lets you be whatever you want to be right from the comfort of your own home. No wonder that the number of these virtual worlds/simulations has increased exponentially in the past few years.
There is a virtual world where you can create your own avatar and roam around in a 3D world populated by other There.com members. You can interact with other members, build your own houses, dress up your characters, buy stuff for them, etc. In other words, There aims to create an online identity for yourself that reflects the real you, or, as There.com itself puts it, be “everything you’ve imagined and wished for”.
There is actually a downloadable application (around 500MB in size) that runs on your desktop. The system requirements are quite low and if you bought your PC within the past 2 years, you shouldn’t have any problem running There.com.
There works on a membership model. Basic membership to the virtual world is free, but you have to shell out money for premium features like voice chat, or to buy virtual goods such as houses, clothing, accessories, etc.
Once you install the There.com application and become a member, you will be prompted to create your avatar. This 3D avatar will be your physical representation in the virtual world, and you have access to a wide variety of templates to pick from when making your avatar. You can dress up the model from a few different sets of clothing and accessories. Later on in the game, you can buy different items for your avatar to trick out his appearance.
After your avatar is created, you can basically walk around the various environments (desert, tropical paradise, city, town, etc.) chatting up with other members. If you have a premium membership, you can even voice chat with your fellow There.com users. There essentially works like a somewhat surreal simulation of real life; you will meet a wide variety of people in the virtual world, all dressed as wildly as you can possibly imagine.
Where There.com really shines is in its creation of a living, breathing world. You can buy and furnish your own house (and even put it up for rent), go shopping for shoes and clothing, buy yourself a car (or design your own ride), hold an exhibition of your ‘art’ (which you can later sell for Therebucks – There.com’s virtual currency), create your own virtual movies, and lots, lots more. The way you interact with other members and the world around you makes for a delightful experience, and it is not extra ordinary to strike up deep and meaningful friendships with people halfway across the globe.
However, in terms of pure features and interactivity potential, There cannot hold a candle to Second Life. Although these are two completely different beasts (Second Life is more of a virtual reality simulation, while There is more chat and people oriented), comparisons to Second Life are inevitable, if unfair.
In terms of graphics, There does not match up to the latest PC games such as Call of Duty 4. Nonetheless, the “game” still looks quite good and runs very smoothly on even old PCs. There’s servers are more than capable of handling the load of several thousand players, and there is hardly any lag while playing the game.
Users concerned about privacy issues will have to just buckle up and go with the flow. A virtual world, by default, does not endear itself to privacy, and There is no different. Although you can block individual users (or groups of users), it is very easy for other members to see what you’ve been up to in the game. Paranoid people should best avoid this game.
In conclusion, There is a great virtual world that excels in its handling of chat and people-to-people interactions. If you are looking for something more complex and demanding, you might be disappointed with the limited features that There offers, but for those of you looking to meet new people without all the hassles of a virtual life simulation, There is the perfect tool.