Now Playing: Reality Without the Downside "It's geared for people who want to spend time wanting to interact with other people beyond their family," she said. "They are the same sort of people who go and hang out in the afternoon in various places or get together after work."
On the Internet, Ms. Dyson noted, the social interaction in chat rooms often disintegrates into "trivial, useless, sex-oriented" babble. And game-based virtual worlds are usually filled with people who want to play games or talk about them.
A virtual destination like There, she said, is more akin to going to a cooking class or an art museum to meet people. "It's for people who want to be doing something while they meet people," she said. What is striking about There is the lengths to which it goes to mimic the mundane detail of everyday life. Members can guide their avatars by basically using the directional keys on a standard computer keyboard not only to meet friends and make new ones but also to explore There's worlds. That can mean anything from spending a day in a spa, where avatars can receive makeovers and haircuts, to surfing in a virtual ocean or joining in a spontaneous game of paintball."