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Virtual worlds: They're back

Virtual worlds: They're back

June 27, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

"We were like: Okay. It’s cool again."
- Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, developers of Second Life

With the advent of virtual reality upon us, the virtual world -- not really an MMO, but a social meeting place in virtual space -- is back. As you probably recall, Second Life was overhyped by the mainstream media in the mid-2000s, but hasn't been mentioned by many besides its die-hard audience in more recent times.

In a new interview with Re/code, Ebbe Altberg, CEO of its developer Linden Lab, discusses the resurgence of the genre as the company works on a successor to Second Life.

"One creator went into her virtual world in Oculus for the first time and was crying. It’s very powerful stuff," Altberg told Re/code. Or as Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey himself put it last year, "What's great about virtual reality is that it... enhances immersion and removes abstraction... what gets between us and the world." He was talking about games, but the principle applies to virtual worlds too -- perhaps even more aptly.

The Re/code report also makes note of High Fidelity -- a VR-powered virtual world currently in development by original Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale.

Of course, there are bigger companies that seem poised to leap into the space sooner or later (probably later.) One example is Facebook, of course. Mark Zuckerberg's belief that "immersive virtual and augmented reality will become a part of people's everyday life" is what motivated the CEO to purchase Oculus VR, he said at the time of the acquisition. While there's as yet no indication what form Facebook-as-VR will take, Second Life is clearly its anarchic progenitor.

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