back to article Google penetrates fake sex world with Lively

It starts with a hug, then some petting on top of colored balls and before you know it you're down at some 3D sex club wielding a dildo. Yes, Google has innocently wandered into the world of casual encounters with the launch of its own 3D reality alternative to Linden Lab's Second Life. The internet's favorite search engine …


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  1. James Cleveland
    Thumb Down

    Just tried Lively

    It is not the metaverse we have been waiting for.

  2. soaklord

    colored balls

    That's not a racist comment is it? Or is it a reference to something that requires penicillin? Mine's the one that's been in the gutter.

  3. Steven Swenson
    Thumb Down


    I can't get a good, free furry avatar like I can on SL. Granted those default animals are really adorable.

    SL has a huge population of furries, the most prominent species amongst them being wolves and foxes. I can see Google making tons of money off of furries alone when they go to purchase an avatar of their desired species.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I look forward to the comments...

    ...I'm sure it'll be a lively discussion.

  5. Don Mitchell

    Yet Another Virtual World

    It's a fascinating idea, the 3D social virtual world. We tried it in 1994 in a research group at Microsoft called "Virtual Worlds". So did Blaxxun, AlphaWorld, Onlive, Palace, WorldsAway, There, Second Life, and many others. It's all been done before, over and over and over.

    Text-based MUD worlds that were social worked marginally: LambdaMOO at Xerox PARC (found art really, the technology was invented by a Canadian student named Steve White), the bizarre and long-lived FurryMUCK and countless others. With populations of a few thousand, it's hard to say if these concepts could have scaled up. Like Sadville, most of these devolved into sex chat.

    But given the huge success of 3D games like World of Warcraft, why do social 3D worlds always fail? Something is being done wrong, or maybe people just aren't very impressive creatures when they are in a space with no social constraints or reputation or responsibility.

  6. Gareth

    Lively discussion...?

    More of a mass debate, I fear..

  7. Andy Worth

    Re:Yet Another Virtual World

    "maybe people just aren't very impressive creatures when they are in a space with no social constraints or reputation or responsibility"

    Well that's definitely part of it, along with the fact that a vast proportion of the people in it put on a completely fake persona. I don't mean the physical character, but the way they act and things they say. It's like stepping into a bullshit factory.

    The MUDs that were active and constantly developing new content were fairly successful at the time, when you consider that there were MUCH fewer people with internet access. But then how much of that was down to the fact that the internet (at the time) consisted of little more than a few bulletin boards and newsgroups?

    I think Social worlds fail mainly because there is NO objective reason to be there. In an MMORPG there are things to achieve, missions and quests but in social virtual worlds there is no point. So naturally most of the talk devolves into sex chat, simply because it's one thing that almost everyone has in common, plus it allows people to "safely" act out whatever they like without consequences.

    Personally I think it just proves that everyone who has a computer and an internet connection is a sexual deviant, and computers should be banned.

  8. Mark Rendle

    Typical Google?

    If Microsoft had launched this, how many comment$ would there be decrying the lack of support for fringe operating systems/browsers?

  9. Steve

    Re:Yet Another Virtual World

    "maybe people just aren't very impressive creatures when they are in a space with no social constraints or reputation or responsibility."

    Or maybe it's the reverse. Only people who want no social constraints go to virtual worlds, the majority of us are happy in the real one. I've never felt the slightest inclination to visit Sadville, or WoW for that matter. The beer's better in a real pub ayway.

  10. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    I've always wanted to know...

    If you're in Second Life, can you get a PC and install Third Life?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Don Mitchel and why always sex

    Things like World of Warcraft give you a specific purpose in their virtual world i.e. to play the game.

    If you think about what we do in real life when not at work, we are either playing something like sport or Wii, or if we are socialising its generally with a purpose of meeting your mates and/or seeking the opposite (or same) sex for romantic purposes.

    SO is it any wonder that in a virtual social environment where there are less physical restrictions (like being fugly) people will naturally end up shagging.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Yet Another Virtual World: "why do social 3D worlds always fail?"

    Should we not consider Korea's Cyworld to be a very successful "social 3D world"?

    (And I believe the Japanese are into the concept too?)

    Is it maybe just not a "Western" thing? (Though if Wikipedia is to be believed - heh, yeah right - the Swedes love Cyworld...)

  13. Steve

    @ Don Mitchell

    "But given the huge success of 3D games like World of Warcraft, why do social 3D worlds always fail?"

    Because they are essentially computer games for people who are no good at games. WoW may let players choose how they want to play the game and what direction they want their character to go, but there is always structured progression and challenges to be beaten.

    Instead of concentrating on designing something that people want to interact with, they focus on generic processes and structures so that the users can then generate the content.

    Which is the same model employed by Wikipedia and Youtube and we've seen how they turned out.

  14. duncan campbell

    Woops.. dead link

    "Requires Windoze XP ..." flush...

  15. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Yet another virtual world

    "But given the huge success of 3D games like World of Warcraft, why do social 3D worlds always fail?"

    Let's think of a few fun activities.

    Beer. Fine in real life, rubbish online.

    Chat. Fine in both. Real life allows rather more immediacy, but online has a wider population.

    Sex. Find in real life, as long as your fetish is realistic and legal. Otherwise, you had better go online.

    War. Hard in real life, at least for most of us. Easy online, and you don't get hurt.

    So online communities tend towards war and w*nking, whereas longer-term social engagement tends to be conducted in real life, where the rewards are greater.

  16. Eddie

    Well, duh...

    People are surprised that something on the internet is being used for sex?

    The only reason it's not endemic in Warcraft is that it isn't easy to achieve - it doesn't stop people trying though. Give the WoW crowd the tools and interfaces available in SL, and Illidan would pleading for customers as all the horny 12 year olds would be experimenting with pose balls.

    No matter how we try and kid ourselves that computers and the internet are "educational" and "the future in our living rooms" - 90% of the time it is going to be used for leisure of some form, and of that 90% will be sex oriented, and anyone surprised by this is either very thick or very straight faced.

  17. Elmer Phud
    IT Angle

    re:"why do social 3D worlds always fail? "

    With SL I'm not sure it's 'social', the main game appears to be to make money out of SL, even to make a living.

    Once it's down to making a quick b(f)uck the only people left are people after yer money - where the 'social' bit gone? Once it's become popular with corporates flogging their wares the whole experience seems tainted, almost like being stuck in a train carriage having to look at the same adverts for ages with no escape. There's no Ad Block in SL.

    (WoW appears to be more social despite the constant fighting.)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Games v Worlds

    I think it might be dangerous to seek comparisons between WoW and 3D worlds. WoW is the first of its kind, and possibly the last, if the latest incarnations of any of its so called competitors are anything to judge by. No other MMOG has anything like the following that WoW does, and that's partly because WoW was the *first* to get the formula right for the mass market, which gives it a unique position.

    Online environments degenerate (in the sense of losing variety) into sex chat zones because there's nothing else to do, and it's largely anonymous with "infinite" possibilities unavailable in the meatworld. Games tend not to so much because there's "stuff to do".

  19. Craig

    April fool?

    I can't believe Google have done something so lame... I'm not clicking the link in case it's true :)

  20. mrpig
    Thumb Down

    Where is everyone?!

    I just took a look and found no one in the rooms with "high activity", there I was hoping to meet the love of my life in the se... western room.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    World of World of Warcraft

    The Onion's article on Blizzard's new game "World of World of Warcraft", which lets you play a player playing World of Warcraft, seems apt here:

  22. spiny norman

    @Don Mitchell

    Why do social 3D worlds fail? To answer that I was trying to think of a real world equivalent - how well would that work? So, take an aircraft hanger in the middle of nowhere and open it up to anyone. On arrival everyone puts on a full head mask and body suit that restricts vision and movement, so walking straight is a new skill you have to master. There is no organised activity, just a few people milling about that you don't know and probably have nothing in common with. So now what?

  23. adnim

    I clicked the link..

    Saw the big eyed, childishly cute in a fugly sort of way avatars, read the words "invite all your friends". Huh, I don't have any, at least none who are so socially challenged as to need such a space to express themselves. I then read the T&C's and closed my browser. Another 10 minutes of real life wasted.

  24. Jerome

    @ spiny norman

    Also, in your aircraft hangar, everyone can fly (although there's nowhere to fly to), you can build any object you wish for (although it won't do anything) and you can satisfy your wildest sexual desires (although you can't feel a thing). Wow, sign me up!

  25. Eddie Edwards

    @ Yet another virtual world

    "We tried it in 1994 in a research group at Microsoft called "Virtual Worlds"."

    Ah yes, presaging the awesome VRML. This stuff didn't really work in 1994. It doesn't really work now, TBH. We need *game developers* to do the tech and content. If Second Life was a game people would scream "n00bs" at it.

    "But given the huge success of 3D games like World of Warcraft, why do social 3D worlds always fail?"

    Put the two side by side.

    WoW: huge contingent of developers creating content in order to entertain the paying users

    SL: in our day we made our own entertainment

    Systems like SL will have their day but most likely only when:

    1. The protocols are RFCs

    2. The client is open and extensible

    3. The server is under the Apache license

    4. There are lots of 3rd-party extensions, content and places to go

    In other words when it's more like a 3D version of the web. Then the purely "social" aspect will be just like the "facebook" aspect of the web - a small part of it. But there could also be MMO gaming, working casinos, etc. etc.

    Snowcrash got it right IMHO. People run their own world servers like web servers. They don't spend a lot of time making content and putting it onto someone else's proprietory system with a policy of "what you upload, we own". And that's pretty key if you want quality content. WoW has it, SL doesn't.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    @ Eddie Edwards

    'Snowcrash got it right IMHO. People run their own world servers like web servers.'

    OPEN SIM...

    There are even Adverts for it running in SL.

    Meanwhile SL is loosing 'Premium' (paid for) accounts at a worrying rate.

    The land market is crashing - remarkable similarly to the RL one.

    So, you may be right.

    Another thing, maybe 'Social virtual worlds' don't exactly fail - the virtual world in question may fail, but it's more of an evolutionary process for the virtual world concept.

    Species become extinct - life continues.

    SL is very likely beginning to fail. Largely because it's failed to keep up with evolution. I mean - still using Poser 2 avatar meshes? A miserably outdated physics engine? Ignoring technologies like SpeedTree?

    Basically, they have taken the money (quite a lot of it) and failed to invest.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Why do virtual worlds fails?

    Er... because real world is actually more fulfilling?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Just don't forget what the internet is *really* for..

    Am surprised no one else has put this one up??

    Makes you understand now...

    Paris - 'cause she knows what the internet is for..

  29. Mark Rendle
    Jobs Horns

    Wil Wright

    is the only person who might be able to make some kind of Metaverse work. And I hope he does, because I desperately want to be Hiro Protagonist.

  30. Hans Mustermann

    My take on WOW vs TSO

    Well, I'll lump all these 3D social worlds under "The Sims Online", because once you remove the "OMG, you could make real money out of it" BS out of SL, that's sorta what you get.

    Now let's compare them to other online worlds.

    1. MMOs. IMHO they aren't just successful because people are playing a game for score. Well, ok, indirectly it is. The thing is, the "game" aspect influences the social aspect too. It gives everyone a common topic to talk to, and a reason to talk to perfect strangers.

    It's, IMHO, a bit like going at a, say, dog owners' club or a linux users' group. You can always start a talk about dogs or respectively linux. You have a common topic right there.

    Further more, the game aspect gives you a reason or excuse to organize groups, have common events, have some chat channels you can join, etc.

    Even IRC is sorted into channels based on some topic. So if you know your interests are, say, WoW and cats, you can look for a channel having either for a topic.

    By comparison, think of being dumped in a foreign city where you don't know anyone and have no idea what anyone is interested in, or why would they even want to talk to you. Chances are none of us would even try talking to random people on the street. We'll just stick to doing what we came there for, and bugger off as soon as we're done with that.

    Well, big surprise that people buggered off from TSO and the like.

    And I'll say that it's not very surprising that the only ones happy to stay in such a foreign town where nobody knows them, is those looking for that kind of anonymity and chance to be someone else. E.g., those looking for sex, antisocial fuckwits, and a few other categories.

    2. MUDs and IRC.

    While both overlap the previous point a bit, they have another thing going for them: they've got a superb chat interface.

    Think about it. All the 3D interface and 3D world to navigate, and whatnot, only get in the way when you just want to chat. If I want to chat to someone, I want to just start typing and there better be as little as possible that gets in the way, or steals screen space from the chat. Basically my first choice would be some kind of IM (I'm open to pretty much any of them), followed by a clean chat interface like IRC or a MUD.

    Games like WoW have the saving grace that there is actually a game that uses that 3D interface. It's one good excuse to put up with it. In a 3D world that doesn't actually have a game, that excuse just vanishes. Why do I need all that extra baggage and why should I learn extra skills, if I can have that social chat without them just the same? In fact, even better.

  31. James

    @soaklord - RE: coloured balls

    No its not, a racist person is

    " a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others "

    If indeed he was referring to a coloured/black/white mans balls (which is unlikely) its not racist to say so and nor should it be. Unless he says one race is better than the other.

    I know your comment is a jest but it just annoys me when someone says that you are racist when you say someone/thing is black/coloured/white, even though you have not said anything about them(it) being better or worse because of its colour.

    Black boards are supposed to be chalk boards, black Labradors are now ebony Labradors... WTF??? Is my old car no longer a white car? What about my current black car?

  32. Kris Chaplin

    Second Life?...

    ... get a first life!

  33. J

    @Typical Google?

    "how many comment$ would there be decrying the lack of support for fringe operating systems/browsers?"

    None, because users of fringe operating systems and browsers only have real sex with real people and are not interested in these virtual shenanigans!

  34. DZ-Jay

    @spiny norman

    >> "There is no organised activity, just a few people milling about that you don't know and probably have nothing in common with. So now what?"

    So now what? Well, sex; naturally.


  35. Abdul Koroma

    Four Reasons To Shun Google Lively!!!

    Did i hear Googlemaniacs already touting Google Lively as the killer of SecondLife? Please give me a break!! I've not tried it and surely have no intention of doing so but reading the horrendous experience of a person who tried it almost makes me want to vomit: Four Reasons Why You Should Shun Google Lively(

  36. alex d

    They've ruined the essence of what worked

    These are not "virtual worlds." That label makes the concept sound cool and hype-worthy.

    In fact, use the correct language: They are 3D chat rooms. That's right. All they are are chat rooms... with a gimmick. And the gimmick is pretty lame.

    But the real problem is that they broke the concept of the chat room itself. They took out the "room", the confined space where you enter to talk to a group of people who are already there. It may not seem like a big deal, but it's actually a huge difference from wandering a world coming up to strangers. The social dynamics change profoundly (think about it).

    In MUDs or MMOs you still have those groupings (eg clans or quests or servers). Even better if the groupings have a purpose. MS 3D Chat was also fairly good because it just had ordinary chat rooms. But a wide open world just doesn't work. [Insert poignant prose about urbanism and the alienation of modern society...]

  37. Nat Pryce
    Gates Halo

    Remember comic chat?

    Now that was a good twist on the chat idea, but like many interesting ideas from Microsoft it disappeared without trace.

  38. Nathanael Bastone

    @David Wiernicki

    My hat off to you sir, of all the coatable comments I have read this year, yours must be far and away the worst yet. A golden coat award is virtually winging itself to you now.

  39. Kevin

    Looks alot like

    A updated version of Microsoft V-chat from 1995. I think the total number of people that used the chat server was like 80-100 when it was brand new and dropped to 40ppl total regular users (i was one saddly) till microsoft decided it was a failure and killed it off in 1997 or so.

    And like people have said its main failure was the wandering around with a complicated interface that servers no purpose.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Sheena: Queen of the Jungle

    "why do social 3D worlds always fail?" - depends what you mean by fail. Second Life seems to have made a fair amount of money for its developers, and there are a few thousand people who enjoy it and pay to use it. They say that there are several million users, but I understand that the figure is artificially inflated.

    I thought the interface was slow and clunky, but that could have been forgiven if the content was great, but it was not. It was depressingly mundane. The possibilities were theoretically endless, but the rooms are basically a lot of strip malls and copies of Blade Runner and The Matrix and some god-awful fantasy novels, and empty islands with "this plot of land has been bought by X" signs on them.

    Fundamentally the problem is that most people are unimaginative and boring. If you stick boring and unimaginative people in a playworld with endless possibilities you will end up with a lot of strip malls and copies of Blade Runner and The Matrix and god-awful fantasy novels. You will have hundreds of people dressed identically as their cartoon idols, because most people aren't creative enough to come up with something new, or bold enough to show off their ideas.

    If you take a virtual world and populate it with a mixture of 12-year-old boys and older men who are too fat or backwards to socialise in real life, and you force them to communicate with each other using an 80-character text buffer, and you put this in a dated-looking 3D world, what do you expect? Swords don't mould themselves out of molten metal, they have to be beaten into shape by a skilled blacksmith, with a heavy hammer, and the same is true of anything.

  41. Dan

    hmmmm smoooth

    Google have seemed to meandered into the sex business accidentally then.

    But my word what a death blow to Second life and all those businesses who spent wads of cash getting their Buildings and staff into Linden Lab's Second Life.

    I reckon there's some good distance in the whole platform though, what with Google being such a powerful brand.

    Also has anyone else considered the idea of MMORPGs?

    Might be a good business venture!

    Dan Course :

  42. Tim Cowley

    WoW roleplay, colored balls, and SL imagination

    I feel I'm the only commenter who has actual knowledge of this material.

    soaklord: the 'colored balls' referred to are poseballs. They're the 3d representation of animations in SL. You have one per person-to-be-animated, they're fixed in place, usually. Click on them and your avatar starts the animation loop. Typically arranged in red/blue pairs for obvious reasons. (or trios of red+red+blue or whatever) Only relied on by people who don't have the talent to roleplay through text.

    as for adult roleplay in wow - there's PLENTY. Head over to, (an adult roleplay profile site) and search for profiles with world of warcraft as their location. You will find no shortage of personas. Again, since all good roleplay happens in text it's not a problem.

    and finally - imagination. People who've never used SL pretend to have insight into SL's inability to represent text. Once you've spent more than 2 minutes using it you learn that you can resize the chat window. After 10 more minutes you find out about 'groups' and group chat, and the tabbed group chat window interface. I spend a great deal of time with my chat window covering most of my view, with my avatar sitting somewhere.

    I've spent a lot of time in SL, in communities very similar to the MUSHs (that's multi-user shared hallucination) and MUCKs (~ Construction Kit) of old. Just like the old days, people create roleplay their areas and personas with total committment. Not everyone, of course, not the lazy people or the unimaginative. Naturally these communities are self-protecting, with strict membership trial periods and vetoing by the founders and organizers. Hard to break into if you're a lamer. Harder if you're a journalist with a deadline. Impossible if you have no imagination or creativity.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    virtual world sex?


    some middle-aged balding accountant sits at home tugging away furiously, while manouvering a big pixelly cartoon character with a rabbit head around a computer screen - making it talk dirty to a similarly low resolution cartoon cat wearing a bikini. said cat is in turn being controlled by another middle-aged masturbating businessman, somewhere else on the planet.

    is it just me who fails to see where the sexual arousal is supposed to come from?

  44. Tim Cowley


    Let go of the hate. You're straw-manning this. It's not about assuming given roles, it's about playing the ones you want, and connecting with other people with matching ideas. The human connection.

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