Lively? Not so much

July 10, 2008

This winter while watching a riveting episode of CSI: New York where real life meshed with Second Life in murderous mayhem, my Luddite boyfriend turned to me and said, “Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if you could really be a 3D character online?”

Unbeknownst to him, there is a Second Life. And you CAN be a 3D character (although the plotline of CSI: New York may have slightly exaggerated the power of Second Life). However, as someone who avoided chat rooms like the plague during the late 90s, I’m not a big participant in virtual communities.  

However, when I saw that Google recently launched its version of a virtual world, I decided to pay a visit to Lively.

Lively is fairly easy to install and I liked that the chat rooms could be embedded on other sites. Creating an avatar wasn’t too horribly painful, although the initial clothing options were teensy halter top 1 or small halter top 2 (you can search for more).

However, once I entered my first room, “the raft,” I was reminded why I’ve avoided virtual worlds in the past.

Yep, that’s me, “amanda,” looking sad and dejected as I wander around the room. (Quite truthfully, I couldn’t figure out how to change how I walked. My avatar was either pouting as above or flailing her hands like a 15-year-old at the mall.) I wandered around, checked out the other avatars and logged off.

A few hours later, I logged back on and chose to visit an oasis room – a supposedly peaceful place. About two minutes into my visit, a man approached me with a hug. Apparently, my avatar liked him and hugged him back (note to self: how do I stop this?). I’m not a touchy-feely gal so I turned the other direction. He followed me, attempted to grab me and then, well, he grabbed himself. My time in Lively is over.

Perhaps it’s too quick to judge Lively in its infancy, but I must agree with Mike from techdirt.com: Lively doesn’t offer appear to show the “Google touch.” While Gmail and Google Maps wowed me with their integration and workable interface, Lively is … not so lovely.