Where Virtual Worlds Collide: The Dream of Active Worlds

In the virtual world of Active Worlds, one can easily find themselves lost in a tangled web of 3D avatars and bizarre lands.  In the blink of an eye, one can be transported from a medieval fantasyland to the techno-inspired landscape of a future Mars.  Atlantis awaits as one wanders through the worlds, seeking out undiscovered lands and meeting strange beasts along the way. It is a universe filled with mystique and mystery, a place where dreams can come true no matter what they are.

Still, among all of the strange and wonderful landscapes, this place called Active Worlds is still rooted firmly in reality.  When one walks town the streets of Broadway, one feels nearly at home in the big city.  For the non-city dweller, the temperature is always perfect in the Tropics.  It is a world all its own, and it can be visited with just the simple click of a mouse.

Virtual Worlds: The Gatezone in Active worlds

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is a View of the GateZone, the first thing Visitors see when entering the Virtual Worlds of Active WorldsThis is a View of the GateZone, the first thing Visitors see when entering the Virtual Worlds of Active Worlds
This is a View of the GateZone, the first thing Visitors see when entering the Virtual Worlds of Active Worlds
This is a View of the GateZone, the first thing Visitors see when entering the Virtual Worlds of Active Worlds
This is a View of the GateZone, the first thing Visitors see when entering the Virtual Worlds of Active Worlds
This is a View of the GateZone, the first thing Visitors see when entering the Virtual Worlds of Active Worlds

A Virtual Reality Flashback: The Origin of Active Worlds

Active Worlds first entered the Virtual Reality scene in 1994 when Ron Britvich created WebWorld. Although WebWorld wasn't a true Virtual World, it did represent the technology that was to come. It wasn't until the next year that he, along with a company known as Knowledge Adventure Worlds created the first true 3D Virtual World.

On June 28, 1995, AlphaWorld, as the project was known at the time, was renamed to Active Worlds.  A new Virtual Reality platform was developed that allowed true 3D real-time chat.  Since that time, the project has grown faster than the technology has been able to keep up. 

Today, Active Worlds is one-step closer to true Virtual Reality.  Over the last few years, there has been a tremendous spurt of growth in the technology used to make Active Worlds seem more life-like.  Highly detailed 3D avatars roam through the various worlds as clouds waltz high overhead.  Streetlamps illuminate the darkness, casting its fading light through the rain to land on the ground.  Currently, a large project to simulate the effects of gravity is underway, and is expected to be complete within a few days.

Virtual Worlds: Vapir in Active worlds

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This world was Created Based on the Popular Books by Susan May GudgeThis world was Created Based on the Popular Books by Susan May GudgeThis world was Created Based on the Popular Books by Susan May Gudge
This world was Created Based on the Popular Books by Susan May Gudge
This world was Created Based on the Popular Books by Susan May Gudge
This world was Created Based on the Popular Books by Susan May Gudge
This world was Created Based on the Popular Books by Susan May Gudge
This world was Created Based on the Popular Books by Susan May Gudge
This world was Created Based on the Popular Books by Susan May Gudge

Features of Active Worlds Virtual World: How to make Virtual Reality Come Alive

One of the unique aspects of Active Worlds is the community involvement that it takes to bring the software to life.  Everything in each of the many varied worlds was built by average users of the program.  Using a simple to understand interface, visitors to Active Worlds can quickly learn how to build virtually anything.  Every one of the 788 different worlds was built by using this simple to use interface.  There are online worlds devoted to everything from Trivia to Mars.  In fact, being able to build in a virtual world is one of the greatest attractions to Active Worlds.

Even though it is exciting to build your own virtual reality world that was not the main purpose of the program.  Active Worlds was designed as the next phase in online chat.  Once you enter the main world you quickly assume the shape of a 3D avatar; either as a male or female tourist.  It may take a moment as the virtual world builds up around you, but after a few brief seconds, you’re ready to go explore.

The main room is usually the most populated.  Below the 3D screen is a chat box where you can talk with any of the 3D avatars that are in the room.  Besides chatting in virtual reality, your 3D avatar is capable of performing many actions, from dancing to wallowing on the ground like an idiot.

Besides the main room, or “world”, there are 788 more rooms to visit. Some of these “worlds” are owned by Active Worlds, while others are owned by the “citizens” of Active Worlds.  Each world has its own theme.  There are worlds especially designed for teens, adults, and even children.  Since the virtual reality software is geared towards everyone, you must verify your age before going into certain worlds.

If one wants to delve deeper into the virtual world experience, one can purchase a membership and become an active “citizen” of the community.  Citizens are allowed to go into more worlds than visitors, and they have many more rights.  Among the benefits of becoming a citizen is the private message and instant message features.  Also, as citizens, one is able to purchase worlds of their own and create whatever kind of theme that they can think of.

Virtual Worlds: Virlands in Active worlds

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Virlands is a Peaceful Island Utopia within Active WorldsVirlands is a Peaceful Island Utopia within Active WorldsVirlands is a Peaceful Island Utopia within Active Worlds
Virlands is a Peaceful Island Utopia within Active Worlds
Virlands is a Peaceful Island Utopia within Active Worlds
Virlands is a Peaceful Island Utopia within Active Worlds
Virlands is a Peaceful Island Utopia within Active Worlds
Virlands is a Peaceful Island Utopia within Active Worlds
Virlands is a Peaceful Island Utopia within Active Worlds

Visiting the Online Worlds of Active Worlds

Active Worlds has a special internet browser that one must download to gain access to the virtual worlds. The software comes with a web browser of its own, so one can browse the web and chat at the same time. After the browser is downloaded and launched, it may take a moment to download the 3D models. Typically, this takes less than thirty seconds, but can take longer on slower connections.

Once you enter the world, you’ll be presented with a scene straight out of a science fiction novel. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to explore around awhile. The entry world isn’t large, so there’s no chance of getting lost. Learning how to use the program only takes moments, especially for the computer savvy. If problems do arise, there’s no need to worry. There is always someone around that’s willing to lend a helping hand.

If you're ready to take the plunge into virtual reality then download the software and give it a try.

Virtual Worlds: Broadway in Active worlds

A Scene from the Broadway world in Active Worlds
A Scene from the Broadway world in Active Worlds

More by this Author


Comments 2 comments

Joy56 profile image

Joy56 5 years ago

wow virtually anything at our fingertips. This was very well written. It explained a lot to a novice about virtuality ...... The world is a changing place, just at the click of a mouse. Our grandparents must be turning in their graves, thinking we are all just wasting our time..... ha


Urbane Chaos profile image

Urbane Chaos 5 years ago from Wister, Oklahoma Author

It's an amazing place.. I first learned about it while I was doing research for an article about Oklahoma I was hired to do. I found a virtual world that was about Oklahoma, so I decided to take a look. What I saw there impressed me, and made me want to learn more about it. Sadly, the Oklahoma world is no longer there, but I can see a lot of applications that it could be used for. Thanks for the comment!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working