Second Life Residents Get Lively Discussing Google’s New 3D Chat Platform

July 16th, 2008  |  Published in SL Entrepreneur Magazine, SLENTRE.COM Magazine Feature Articles  |  3 Comments

By Avarie Parker

It has been a week since Google unleashed Lively, their contribution to the 3D web. There has been a lot of hype surrounding the giant’s entry in to realm of virtual worlds with some observers suggesting that Lively might threaten or ultimately eliminate Linden Lab’s Second Life. After spending some time in Lively, I find the comparison between Google’s take on the 3D web and Second Life hardly analagous. The applications are more different than they are alike and some are saying that Lively is not a virtual world at all. Lively doesn’t currently support any user-generated content and avatars must be clothed at all times. This fact hasn’t stopped Lively users from setting up sex rooms fully equipped with live action streaming videos and quickly topping the charts on the home page.

Google has banned the adult content, taking complaints from other Lively users very seriously. This type of censorship is another example of the difference between SL and Lively. In Second Life, the sex industry is booming as the Lindens decided to take a more laissez-faire approach to content. While hardcore Second Life users may find little value in what Lively has to offer; others not as familiar with the virtual experience will likely enjoy it’s limited capabilities. It’s very easy to use and it’s Google. These factors alone almost ensure that it will become the ‘Myspace’ of the 3D Web. If you get a chance to experience Lively for yourself, you can stop by the WWW.SLENTRE.COM room and check in with other SL residents.

(Avarie Parker at the computer in the SLENTRE.COM Lively Room)

Here’s what other long time Second Life residents have to say about Lively:

( Charlana Beresford’s Second Life avatar and her avatar in Google’s Lively)

Truth be told, Lively is underwhelming and can best be described as a 3D chat. I believe it might work well as an initial exposure to virtual worlds, but there seem to be enough limitations that anyone used to operating in a virtual world would find it constraining. The room-based structure feels confining in multiple ways (physically and socially). Movement and control are a bit rudimentary and a little frustrating. The most frustrating, though, are that automatic animations that come up when you type something in (laugh, lol, etc. all lead to automatic over the top laughter – smiley emoticons get a reaction too).

Despite these drawbacks, there are some interesting qualities to Lively. The first is that it is easy to create and minimally customize your avatar. It also is rather straightforward and simple to create and decorate a room. Finally, the ability to create private spaces to meet with friends and colleagues can prove very valuable.

I hope my ramblings make sense and are useful! Also, I’ve attached more pictures than you probably need/want. Please let me know if these work for you. Otherwise, I am happy to have your photographer take some.

I’ve been thinking a bit more about Lively and wanted to add that it is important to remember that it’s still technically in a public beta. It will be interesting to see how it will change and shift as the product moves forward. I’m sure that they’ll find ways to address some of the complaints as new releases are unveiled.

– Charlana Beresford

My first reaction to Lively was “Oh crap!” But with further investigation, I was less concerned. I think it will have appeal to the tweens/social networking market but not much beyond that. It certainly validates the space and for me it’s a good thing as companies will now be asking themselves if they want to play in this space.

I’m not sure it’s of much interest to businesses as there is no access control, API, or creation tools as yet. I’m still learning what Lively can or can’t do, so I may be wrong on some of these issues. I was surprised that it took them 3 years and they don’t have Mac support. Blink 3D has been in development for 3 years and I certainly don’t have the resources Google has.

Looking at the blogs people seem to fall into two camps: the “I hate 3D” camp, who can’t imagine why Google would lower themselves to do this. Then there is the “we love 3D but we are surprised that Google did not do a better job” camp, but appreciate the validation it brings to virtual worlds.

Looking at Lively, Vivaty, and ExitReality, and then considering what we plan to do, I think our offering is going to be quite different in a number of key areas. One thing is for sure, it will be interesting!

– Clive Jackson, Founder of Pelican Crossing and developer of Blink3D and inDuality

(Minced Media in Lively and Second Life)

I didn’t feel as immersed in the experience as I do in Second Life. There
was something about the interface that lacked emotional engagement.

The speech bubbles were visually annoying in that it was hard to
follow conversations.

– Minced Media

(Brian demonstrates participation in Lively while in Second Life)

There has been a lot of comparison between Second Life and Google and even buzz that Google will destroy Second Life. The fact is that they are very different products. In fact, I think they can be used to augment one another in some fascinating ways. Why not use SL for a deep rich experience with many immersive elements while allowing for those times where you link to Lively while in SL to add a special event or meeting space? The fact is that in looking beyond the two programs as competitors and more as products that when combined might create a better experience, you begin to appreciate how powerful things could be.

– PrinterBrian Dowd, aka Brian Regan, President and co-founder, Virtual Job Board

Lively isn’t a virtual world, it’s a 3D chat room system that can embed in your web page. We found it was very buggy. At one point, five images of the Lively client were taking up about 50% of two pretty hefty CPUs — doing absolutely nothing. The customization was kind of bland. The Linden Lab room (sorry Pathfinder!) was sort of basic, though there were some very imaginative rooms out there. Like anything on the net, the sex-chat rooms became the most popular rooms immediately. *Yawn* I’ll come back when there’s more content and it’s better behaved. But I might use it as a way to do live chat for a consulting or customer-service oriented web site – that might be fun when it is at a real 1.1 level of quality.

– Shava Nerad

What is your Lively experience? Please feel to contribute to this ongoing discussion. It will be very interesting to see what the next few years holds for the virtual world industry.


  1. Sigmund Leominster says:

    July 20th, 2008at 9:12 am(#)

    There’s a discussion by the folks at “World2Worlds” who hosted an online session on the topic of Lively. Here’s the link – and there are some comments from your truly.

    There is a link to the site for a streaming video of the whole discussion – but be warned, it is about 90 minutes long so make sure you have the time!

  2. SLENTRE.COM Celebrates 6 Month Milestone says:

    July 23rd, 2008at 1:31 pm(#)

    […] in some sort of virtual world. This estimate is harder to dispute with the advent of Lively (, Google’s first stab at a 3D environment. The magazine has matured into a tightly knit group of […]

  3. Live Girls says:

    May 15th, 2009at 6:59 pm(#)

    Sounds cool I will check it out.