See Copyright and Usage Notice

What in the World is There to do? Popular Activities in AlphaWorld and other Active Worlds

Getting bored just chatting and exploring? Well, AlphaWorld citizens are continually inventing new ways to have fun. We will go along with several citizens on activities from photo shoots to the equivalent of the virtual bungee jump!

Virtual road trips to that virtual summer vacation!

Figure 7.38: awn2b.gif
Itís Yellowstone!

There are no maps or roadside assistance in AlphaWorld yet, but this should not stop you and your family from getting in the virtual minivan and heading out for excellent adventures. Best of all, there is no gas to buy, and the bathroom is always handy! Many families have hooked up two or more computers to separate accounts through multiple telephone lines (that teen phone is useful for something) and toured as a group.

You can call on the homes of friends (rarely is anyone there, but sometimes you may be surprised), or prowl undetected through a virtual Beverly Hills. There are no security services and guard dog bots in AlphaWorld yet, but you canít take anything anyway!

Figure 7.39: awn2i.gif
A virtual tourist snaps a picture at Yellowstoneís Old Faithful geyser.

Circle of Fire Studios (find them at made a wonderful virtual version of Yellowstone National Park, which is in Wyoming in the U.S. It comes complete with a faithful geyser, a lodge with a fireplace, and grizzlies fishing in streams. As the following figure shows, you can do things in the virtual world that you would not dare attempt in real life. We have fallen into the geyser and are now traveling inside magma chambers in the bowels of the Earth.

Figure 7.40: awn2c.gif
Whoops! Falling into the lava pools under the Yellowstone the geyser.

We were warned, as you get close to old faithful, a park rangerís voice calls out to you: ìdonít go near the geyser, its dangerous!î.

Hit the Slopes!

Figure 7.41: ski1s.jpg
Weíre skiing in the Titanís Guild Winter Wonderland on an overcast day.

Avatars slalom down the slopes in Titan Guildís Winter Wonderland, an Active World dedicated to fun in the white fluffy stuff. Complete with chair lifts, runs from bunny to diamond level, and some pretty good jumps and moguls.

Figure 7.42: ski2s.jpg
The weather improves, and Protagonist and I take another run.

When will we see the AlphaWorld skiing world cup? Winter Wonderland also has a lodge with crackling fireplace and a skating rink with plenty of Santa Claus avatars and cheesy skating rink radio shows piped in through RealAudio a player (if you have RealAudio installed).

Figure 7.43: ski3s.jpg
We stop by the chair lift for a picture of that gorgeous scenery!

Group photos and photojournalism

Writing this book made me into an avatar photojournalist. You too can document your adventures in virtual worlds. Hundreds of citizens have created Web sites showing their travelogs (or avalogs). Will the avalog replace those very interesting home movies or fascinating slide shows we all love?

Figure 7.44: shrday7a.jpg
Lining everyone up for a shot can be tricky!

Like the scene in Stanley Kubrickís 2001, a Space Odyssey, in which the astronauts line up in front of that monolith on the moon, you can engage in the clumsy but cute exercise of avatar group photographs. The figures above show just how confusing it is to get everyone facing the same direction. And when it is all ready, say cheese! To take a picture, just press the Print Screen or PrtScr key on your PC keyboard and then paste the resulting image into a paint program or word processing document.

Some AlphaWorld citizens have become fanatical photojournalists, shooting hundreds of pictures of just about every spot in the world and every social gathering. See, ìA Day in the Life of AlphaWorld,î later in this chapter for shots of an actual wedding held within AlphaWorld.

Shared building

Shared building is a very common and very rewarding activity in AlphaWorld. Whole communities have been constructed this way (see the section, ìWhat hath they wrought?î). Due to permission restrictions, citizens engage in shared building, with many people using the same avatar. To do this, you must share the aworld.ini file found in your Active Worlds directory folder. This is described in, ìUsing aworld.ini for Collaborative Building,î within the section ìQuestions and Answers related to Your Identityî in this chapterís FAQ.

Did you see that...avatar move?!

Figure 7.45: awn1c.gif
KaiOhShin, martial artist of AlphaWorld, shows off his moves.

If you havenít already noticed, avatars in AlphaWorld and other Active Worlds move. Avatar articulation sequences are a form of entertainment in themselves. My photojournalistic shutter was quick enough to catch these frames of sensei KaiOhShin in the digital dojo.

Figure 7.46: awn1d.gif
KaiOhShin in a stance.

Figure 7.47: awn1e.gif
KaiOhShin stands tall.

Figure 7.48: awn1f.gif
KaiOhShin takes a bow.

Boogie down at the avatar dance

Figure 7.49: awn1a.gif
Active Worlds co-creator Protagonist puts on a top 10 hit:
Pixels in the Wind.

A very popular activity in AlphaWorld is DJ-ing (disk jockeying). A host will attach music to objects (MIDI or WAV files) so that everyone in the area can hear it. People ìsingî along and dance, moving their avatars back and forth in variations of the Avatar Slam, Bit Boogie, Virtualese Waltz, and Raster Rasta. The preceding figure shows a scene from one late Friday night party at Ground Zero. Protagonist, Active Worlds co-creator Ron Britvich in real life, sings and dances along to a favorite: Pixels in the Wind. Another old saw is, We are the AlphaWorld, a virtual variant of We are the World.

Figure 7.50: src=awn1i.gif
Protagonist and Fussy are dancing to Pixels in the Wind.

Letís party!

Figure 7.51: party10a.jpg
Thereís a summer garden party at Laurelís herb farm.

If you have music, avatars, boogying dance, and scintillating conversation, then you have a party! I was involved with a group of AlphaWorld citizens in throwing a big summer bash on July 13, 1996 at Laurelís Herb Farm in Sherwood Forest Towne, a collective building area. As Laurel had created such a beautiful garden, we decided to throw a party there. On top of that, we built a virtual redwood tree grove next door and held a poetry reading there with poets in-avatar from my hometown of Boulder Creek, California. And on top of all that, we held a big physical get together at the beautiful hilltop home of my friends and neighbors here in town.

Figure 7.51.1: src=party4a.jpg
The sign and teleport to the garden party from Ground Zero.

In AlphaWorld, hundreds of avatars showed up by jumping through the sign (shown in the preceding figure), which was actually a teleport directly to Sherwood. A scene from the garden party is also shown here. We had a DJ for music, professional party hosts, poets, and even the AlphaWorld Police Department there in case of trouble (which we had). We held simultaneous parties in both the Palace and Black Sun Interactiveís Cybergate. Lots of people, wine, song, poetry mixed with computers, and partygoer avatars joined us virtually and made themselves heard. This mixing of physical and virtual parties was a lot of fun, and I expect to see more of this in the years ahead. Why donít you try it? You can find out how we did it at

Dive bombing

Dive bombing is one of the strangest and most thrilling activities in AlphaWorld. AlphaWorld citizens pick a favorite spot and then, usually with a partner cybernaut, rocket to high altitude using a combination of Ctrl and Keypad Plus. It is more fun to do this out of body in the god view. To do this, press End before you start your ascent.

You will see your avatar shoot up and you will track right along behind it. When you finally let your fingers off the thruster controls (Ctrl + Keypad Plus), you will be at a dizzying height. Go back into your avatarís body by pressing Home and then look around. You may or may not see your partner, but you will see the horizon and realize how high you are. Use Page Down to tilt your viewpoint straight down and you will see a tiny area below. That is the section of city you just left, an isolated island within its display horizon. There is actually much more city below but the Active Worlds software is just not showing it.

Next you can begin your powered descent. Looking straight down, press Ctrl+Keypad Minus and watch how the city comes up underneath you. Finish your descent by just holding down Keypad Minus. Be careful not to approach ground too fast or you will blow beneath the world. If you do this, you can look up and see the underside of the city. You will have to come back up by pushing Shift+Keypad Plus. Finally, use Page Up to tilt your head up. Congratulations on a fine landing!

The figures below will give you a preview of this thrill-of-a-virtual-lifetime experience!

Dive bombing sequence over Necropolis City

Figure 7.52: awdive9a.jpg
The 50K rocket scooter up!

Figure 7.53: awdive2a.jpg
Looking down, oh!

Figure 7.54: awdive3a.jpg
Necropolis is dead ahead!

Figure 7.55: awdive4a.jpg
Pick a landing spot.

Figure 7.56: awdive5a.jpg
Pull up! Pull up!

Figure 7.57: awdive7.jpg
Houston, Tranquillity Base here, we have a safe landing in Necropolis!

Hide and seek

It may seem silly, but good old hide and seek can be a fun form of virtual paper chase. As avatars can be seen through buildings and at long distances, the finding is easy, but the catching is not. The chase is on, and may the fastest CPU win!


Figure 7.58: awlove.gif
Birds fall in love.

In any medium where people interact, romance can bloom. This author has met many new and fascinating people through interactions inside AlphaWorld. When I have taken the trouble to telephone or visit these people, they have almost always surprised me...they are not what I expected from their virtual personae! People have met in AlphaWorld and fallen in love in real life. In ìA Day in the Life of AlphaWorld,î I cover a full-scale (and real-life) wedding, complete with bridesmaid, best man, and minister.

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.