Active Worlds: A Brief Introduction

Active Worlds* is the granddaddy of virtual worlds. Founded in 1995, it has been in operation for nearly 23 years now. I had visited once before, back in 2010, after reading about its 15th anniversary on Metafilter. But I had lost my login information, so I decided to create a new account and pay Active Worlds a visit. The arrival area looks like this, with a rather ugly-looking bot to greet visitors:

AW 11 May 2018.png

AW 2 11 May 2018.png

But to my surprise, there were no less than seven other avatars in the default welcome area who were chatting (I had expected it to be deserted). One of the avatars there told me how to pull up a list of worlds to teleport to:

AW 4 11 May 2018.png

I picked the HeavensStairway world, and there were about seven avatars there as well, and I was actually welcomed by a handful of people! But after a little while, I realized that these avatars were merely bots, as they greeted other newcomers in exactly the same manner.

The avatars/bots are rather primitive compared to Second Life, but serviceable:

AW 5 11 May 2018.png

Here’s a selfie of my default male avatar:

AW 7 11 May 2018.png

There’s a user community called which you can also join, and I did. There’s only one event coming up, a TGIF Party, to which nobody seems to be planning to attend, according to the message at the bottom of the screen:

AW 3 11 May 2018.png

There’s also an Active Worlds news website called AWTimes, which is updated bi-monthly (and which is, frankly, one of the most hideously designed websites I’ve seen in a long while). According to the AWTimes, surprisingly, the Active Worlds software has been updated as recently as February 2018.

And tonight, I am dancing with a few others at the TGIF Party at the PrairieHills world! Turned out some other people showed up after all! It would seem that there is still a little bit of life in Active Worlds after all these years…



*Note that when I tried to access the Active Worlds website, Google Chrome gave me a security warning. Apparently, their website security certificate had expired, only yesterday! My timing was perfectly (im)perfect. I decided to bypass the warning and visit the website anyway, but you might feel differently about it:

AW Warning 11 May 2018.png

Liked it? Then please consider supporting Ryan Schultz on Patreon! Even as little as US$1 a month unlocks exclusive patron benefits. Thank you!
Become a patron at Patreon!

2 thoughts on “Active Worlds: A Brief Introduction”

  1. Asthetics aside, AW is still quite powerful in the right hands and in some cases surpassing Second Life in ability. I wouldn’t leave SL for it, but then I’ve had my account in AW since 1998.

    What you see today is not the best that AW is capable of. Considering that many of the higher end talent in the community have left for places like SL, those object paths aren’t what they used to be.

    Off the top of my head I can name two things that AW still smokes SL over, even 15 years later:

    1. Particles. They made it intuitive, fast and GUI driven. Also screen space particles to allow weather.
    2. Zones. This alone is a god send when building. Have to look it up on to really appreciate it.

  2. I can NOT believe we were both at the TGIF event minutes apart. What a coincidence! I’ve been developing a quest in one of the free building worlds in Activeworlds called Alphaworld. Anyone can build in a free building world, and it stays forever … like … forever. This week I searched my citizen number for builds I had made in Alphaworlds and came up with some from 2002! so eerie. Things have changed a lot in Activeworlds. I’m loving the particle effects in particular. But something I’ve always loved is the easy way you can script objects by typing action commands right in a the objects property windows.

Comments are closed.