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A look at other virtual worlds: Gaia Online

By admin | Oktober 13, 2007

gaia7.jpgThere was a threat in one of the IMVU forums that actually directed me to this one. The question was “Do you know other places like IMVU?”. I was surprised how little answers were posted there, it looks a lot like most people select their prefered world for one reason or the other and stick to it, only rarely exploring alternatives.

Gaia Online is somewhat unusual, as it is advertised more than a community than a virual world from the beginning and that it is clearly advertised as a place for teens. It is not restricted to adults, but the target group is clearly 13+. I didn’t allow this to scare me away, I once owned a pet at Neo Pets, and if you have done that, it takes more than some cute, cuddly, anime style avatars to scare you away.

The next interesting feature: Gaia Online runs in your browser. And it even worked with Safari on my Mac! This is a big plus, most virtual worlds score low on this, Second Life is so far the only one I found that offers a client for Mac.

The next interesting feature: You will gain in game money (”gold”) for surfing, staying in world, making postings etc. For Second Lifers: It’s like a built in camping feature. The biggest advantage compared to camping in SL: You get it for doing something instead of doing nothing.

When I joined there were 44,000 something people online - roughly as much as you can find in Second Life at peak time.

gaia3.jpgThe next thing that made my time as a new user enjoyable were quests that are offered by NPCs. The first quests introduce you to key features of Gaia Online, like buying stuff or customizing your avatar.

While I was trying to get a feel for Gaia Online I kept asking myself: “What is it?” - Is its a website, a community, a networking site, a virtual world? Does it even matter? The blending of virtual world and more tarditional internet community elements is clearly typical for Gaia Online. It should be noted that it is clearly less immersive and with the 2D interface it remidned me a lot of The Palace in some respects. Gaia does not offer its users the option to become designers themselves, so your creativety in custumizing your avatar or your home is limited to buying and using premade stuff, which also makes it a little more Web 1.0 by comparison.

gaia10.jpgWhat made Gaia Online fun was a nice balance of community and single player features. I found it easy enough to find other people to hang out and chat with, but also enjoyed spending time with little quests or customizing my own place, once I got my own house.

It is a most interesting experience to see so many similar, yet very distinct incarnations of the virtual community/reality/world idea in such a short time. By comparison Gaia so far stood out as a very friendly and very casual place. I also found it easy to use. It didn’t bother me that it was aiming at kids, different from IMVU I found that this theme was clearly set and implemented in a way that made it easy for me to adapt to it. It made me feel like it is okay to be a kid there, no matter your real age. If you join chats or read the message boards you will run into some adult discussions and crude humour, like on any other place in the web, especially if the people who hang out there realy are teenagers, but the oversexed atmosphere that irritated me at IMVU is largely absent.

gaia4.jpgI still don’t know, if Gaia realy belongs here, but I found it fascinatingly different and I have to say that simply the size impressed me. Recently Gaia Online broke the 100k mark for highest number of users online. Without any of the servers breaking a sweat. :-)

Gaia also got a new layout recently, so some of the screenshots are already outdated, but the general look is still the same and as much as I liked the general look and feel of the place I dstill didn’t want to create a new account just to have up to date picturs.


Topics: VR |

One Response to “A look at other virtual worlds: Gaia Online”

  1. De Mattar » Mundos Virtuais - Comparação Says:
    Oktober 25th, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    [...] from and about Second Life, onde começou a avaliar alguns outros ambientes virtuais, como o Gaia, o There e o IMVU. Num e-mail recentemente enviado para a lista dos educadores envolvidos com o [...]


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