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Active Worlds (AW) is a 3D virtual world that started in 1995 and is one of Second Life's main competitors. AW was one of the more revolutionary virtual worlds in its beginning days, with user-owned "worlds", an API to create "bots"/NPCs, and a thriving community. AW has since stagnated over the past few years with no more than 300 users on average logged in and thousands of empty (user wise) abandoned worlds. But, recently, a new version, AW 4.1 was released with some features SL could benefit from (like more particle options, a more customizable UI, and zones) as well as some features that could be seen as attempts to "catch up" to some of SL's (such as vehicles and custom avatars, both of which the AW user-base has been asking for a long time).
There are many former/current AW users in SL and a few groups for them, one of the larger groups being Active Worlds Refugees started by Eep Quirk in 2004. On December 05, 2008 Activeworlds Inc instantly extended the accounts of over 65,000 previous citizens in an attempt to draw back some of those users lost to Second Life.
- Active Worlds website
- Wikipedia: Active Worlds
- Oz Spade's Virtual World Comparison: Active Worlds, Second Life, and There
- Eep Quirk's SL Comparison - Compare SL to AW and many other 3D games.