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Entering Kymer: All Ashore Whoís Going Ashore!

Figure 8.23: wa2b.jpg
We walk around the hustle and bustle of Cypress Street in Kymerís Phantasus City.

Alighting on the magic soil of Kymer, we walk out into the hustle and bustle of Cypress Street. But wait, where are the people; where are we? Phantasus is a sizable port town, so we have to walk around a bit to find the hot spots. Because you have this book, you have this great map! Oh, you are a well-prepared tourist! Actually, the map can be found under the Help menu in Worlds Away, and on the WorldsAway Web site at

Figure 8.24: wa5b.jpg
A great overview map of Phantasus City on Kymer Island.

Wandering through the dolmens of Cypress Street, I arrive at the central fountain where, lo and behold, there are some people (or at least their avatars)! These are real people, not bots, and they all greet me as I come in. You can see me on the right, and that the world is telling me I am entering the west fountain. They see me come in (the world tells them something like DigiGardener is here), and they start saying, ìHi Digi,î (my nickname).

Figure 8.25: wa2c.jpg
I found some folks at the fountain!

Jabberwocky all day

I have so many questions for these folks…but how do I talk? Well, it turns out to be a very simple procedure.

Figure 8.26: wa4k.jpg
Talking normally, just type, and press Enter.

Figure 8.27: wa4l.jpg
Put out a few thought balloons.

Figure 8.28: wa4n.jpg
Insert emoticons into your speech.

At the bottom of the WorldsAway screen is an area for typing in text. If you put something in there and hit Enter, it will be displayed in a cartoon bubble over your head for all to see. On the right-hand side of the text entry area are three little icons (as you can see from the preceding figures). The first means speak normally (which we just did). The second allows you to cast your words out there as a cartoon-style thought balloon. The third button allows you to ESP (short for extra sensory perception), which is a kind of walkie-talkie radio system within the Dreamscape. Using ESP, you can send a private message to only one person or to a group of your friends. We will see an example of ESP-ing soon.

Figure 8.29: wa4h.jpg
The Edit menu options.

The Edit menu allows you to switch between these different modes of communication. It also allows you to insert gestures, called emoticons (emotional icons look like the old ë70s happy face) like in the Happy Days example in the preceding figure.

Figure 8.30: wa2db.jpg
Avatars join in the confetti toss at the WorldsAway Dreamscape first-year anniversary party.

Avatars just kept striding in, and one curious fellow, a duck in a cowboy hat, started tossing around wonderful streams of confetti. Everyone wanted to know where it came from, and he said it was from the recent Dreamscape New Yearís party, which celebrated the Dreamscapeís first year online. It turns out he was from the Duckolytes, an informal Dreamscape welcoming association modeled on the official Dreamscape helpers, called ëAcolytesí, Dreamscapeís formal helpers. He said that you could not buy confetti-you just had to be at the New Yearís celebrations to get some. Boy, I have been here only five minutes and already I have learned so much. The people here are really helpful, and this place is hopping!

There are lots of in-world groups dedicated to helping new members. One group, the SunRays, even has charity events to raise tokens for ìVictims of Crimes and Crashesî. The existence of all these helper groups really demonstrates both the generous character of the Dreamscape and the complexity of the society.

Digi discovers the virtual economy

I am starting to get excited; I can really talk to people here and do things! For better or for worse, like in the real world, it seems you need money here (called tokens). As mentioned before, you can earn tokens just by staying in the Dreamscape (note that you may be paying real CompuServe or Internet Service Provider on-line charges while you do this). You can also earn tokens by selling things. But what have I to sell? I just got off the boat!

Figure 8.31: wa2e.jpg
What can I sell for quick cash? How about that newbie head?

Well, Kymerians to the rescue. A beautiful avatar named Daira tells me that I am probably carrying around my newbie head (the one I substituted with my beautiful head), and that I can sell it to a pawnbroker next to the V-Mart. Boy, everyone knows I just got off the boat! I click on me, get the menu, and remove this old head from my pocket.

Figure 8.32: wa2g.jpg
Sell, sell, sell. The pawnbrokers are outside of the V-Mart.

Daira kindly agrees to take me over to the V-Mart. ìBut how do I follow you,î I ask? She says, ìjust click on me and select Follow.î I do this, and then she walks off stage left. Magically, I follow along, like I am tied to her by one of those toddler cords! We arrive a couple of screens later at the V-Mart (on the corner of Orchid and Cypress), and there is the pawnbrokerís window. A lot of people (well, their avatars at least) are going up to the window and leaving with smiles on their faces. I click on the window, pick Approach, then click on Appraise to find out that this head is worth 80T (tokens). What a deal for a useless head; I quickly pick Sell Item and pocket this small fortune. I find out later in the V-Mart that 80T doesnít buy much!

Figure 8.33: wa2h.jpg
Daira teaches me how to ESP.

Daira says she has to go, but teaches me how to reach her in the future by using ESP, the radio system within the Dreamscape that lets people communicate privately with each other. ìJust click on the third button on the bottom left,î she says, ìand then put in my name, Daira, where it says To. Then you can put in any message you want and send it to me anywhere in Kymer when you press Enter.î I try this and it is sooo easy! Thank you, Daira. I hope you meet someone like Daira when you first start using WorldsAway.

Attention all V-Mart shoppers!

Figure 8.34: wa2i.jpg
Love that basket…oops! But not the boutique price!

OK, got tokens, will travel to the V-Mart. Through the doors I find a vendo with what looks like a set of cool baskets and bags. Rolling through the selections, my eyes roll at the price, 250T! I suppose I could sell my new head…but no, I saw people walking around the Dreamscape headless, and it is not conducive to good conversation. Actually, someone told me later that those unfortunate newbies were talked out of their heads. Warning: do not give your head to anyone, no matter what they say it is for! Many newbies are really shocked when they are targeted by thieves, and donít know that there are lots of support organizations set up to help them.

I love that basket, but I just cannot afford it, and there are no credit cards here. Virtual worlds encourage good money management and balanced budgets (I wonder how long that will last?).

Figure 8.36: wa2k.jpg
Can you afford this? Click on yourself and find out.

Another vendo is more in my price range: a key to your heart, only 15T! I didnít know I was such a cheap date! I clicked on myself to get my own status menu and found that I had 55 tokens to my name. Well, that would be enough to be able to brag to friends that I had shopped at the V-Mart.

This V-Mart is expensiveómore like a Harrods than a K-Mart, so I pocketed my cheap souvenir key and left in search of my fortune. New immigrants often can be easily taken in, so you will probably believe what happened next.

Make a quick token in the virtual Vegas

Figure 8.37: wa2n.jpg
Vegas lives in the virtual world…my fortunes are made!

Down to one thin 40T, I was kicking at old confetti litter when I moseyed right into the middle of a sort of virtual Vegas! Gambling, the chance at fast fortune, yes, Iím going to own this town one day! But wait, where did I go? ìThis game is full,î said the dealer, and besides, you have been ghosted! True, my avatar was not in the room at all, but hiding in the small eye-cloud in the right corner. It turns out that everyone goes into Ghost mode when a room is too full. As a ghost, you can hear everything, communicate only by ESP, and actually travel much faster through the world (your avatar is spared all that walking). Being a ghost is like being a lurker in a chat room or mailing list…just reading everything, but never speaking up to the whole group. If you click on the cloud, you can try to un-ghost (if someone has just left the room). You can also see how many people are ghosted along with you in that little cloud…22 in this one. Please move over!

Tycoon not! Back to having fun!

Figure 8.38: wa2o.jpg
What is life about? How about flying!

Hopes for fortune dashed. What is life really about, anyway? How about flying! These virtual worlds are good because you can do things here that you canít in real life. Itís like being in your own theater. I spooked around Kymer for awhile as a ghost and decided to materialize in an empty spot. Right then and there, another avatar walked in who was me, or at least looked like me. I said to her, ìwait a minute, you are me, I mean, I am you!î She laughed and then flew like a bird. ìHow did you do that,î I asked. She said that I just had to double-click on myself, and I too, could fly; what fun!

Express yourself!

Figure 8.39: wa2p.jpg
Try out different gestures and expressions.

Another citizen was watching us too. The flighty twins and told me about other gestures I could make by pressing special keys on the keyboard or selecting them from the Communicate (arrow) Gesture menu, as shown in the following figure. She also told me about turning your avatarís back to the screen if you are doing something somewhere else, or not paying attention to the computer. She said this is polite to the other citizens who otherwise might try to talk to you.

Figure 8.40: wa4b.jpg
Choose your expressions by picking Communicate
(arrow) Gesture

Get creative with your choice of clothing and heads at the Nu Yu, and body sprays to change your body and skin color. The couple in the following figure got very spooky for Halloween and stayed that way!

Figure 8.41: wa6a.jpg
What a wild and crazy couple!

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.