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La Deuxième Monde (the Second World)

La Deuxième Monde is the third virtual world to come from a European culture. While Black Sun's worlds reflect the cool precision of German design and OZ's worlds revolve around dark, remote space station worlds like their far-out Icelandic home, France's Deuxième Monde (which means Second World) embodies Gallic character and fashion to the hilt.

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Figure 14.13.1: dm1f.jpg

At the time this chapter was written, Deuxième Monde available as a free service to residents of France for a only limited time only . You definitely must be able to speak (or at least read and type) French to participate in this world. If you want to enter la vie virtuelle (the virtual life) with a French twist, visit the Deuxième Monde website at: There you will find instructions to order the CD-ROM necessary for entry into the world. Note that at the time of the writing of this book, the CD cost 349 French Francs (60-70 dollars) but the connect time was to be offered at no charge until at least September of 1997.

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The Interface

Figure 14.13.2: dm1c.jpg
Software interface showing
le Sacré-Cœur, text chat and an overhead view of Paris

Figure 14.13.3: dm1d.jpg
Overhead view of a very cool Cybercity with teleport drop points (William Gibson would be proud!)

The interface to La Deuxième Monde is typical of many text-chat avatar virtual worlds. In the main window is a view of the world and other avatars. Below that is a text chat area showing threaded discussions and system messages. On the right side is a window showing an overhead view of where you are in the virtual Paris. Few virtual worlds try to recreate actual physical cities but Deuxième Monde recreates portions of several French cities including an elaborate Paris. The virtual Paris comes complete with areas dedicated to Trocadéro, Père-Lachaise, Rue de Rivoli, Pyramide du Louvre, République, and le Sacré-Cœur. Choosing real cities can provide a context, as many of the "citoyens" (citizens) already have knowledge of Paris and a therefore starting point for discussions.

Figure 14.13.4: dm1e.jpg
Avatars editor

Figure 14.13.5: dm1g.jpg
Well dressed avatar in the virtual Paris

The avatar editor in Deuxième Monde is quite sophisticated, allowing you to choose characters from different races in a bank of twenty body models, to select clothing, hair style and color and to define an identity. As we can see in the preceding figure, the avatar even looks pretty French, a refreshing change from just fish or penguins!

The World and the Community

Figure 14.13.6: dm1a.jpg
Avatars congregating in
Deuxième Monde

Figure 14.13.7: dm1b.jpg
Familiar Parisienne scene inside
Deuxième Monde

From the preceding figures, you can avatars mixing in Paris street scenes. Several thousand people use Deuxième Monde and much has happened there that I, as a non-participant and a poor speaker of French, cannot report on. From the Web page it looks as if a lively debate on the politics of virtual communities has started within a city radio station and a community newspaper (at They also talk about games, events, services and shopping being tried in the world.

History of the project

The project was created by Alain Lediberder, president of Canal + Multimedia (a division of a private French television station) starting in the fall of 1994. Philippe Ulrich and many others were involved in this genesis and building of the project, which found its original roots in MUDs (Multi User Domains) and in discussions at the famous Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.

For France, Deuxième Monde is a big step up from Minitel, the aging national teletext system.

Paris et toute la France est à nous !

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.