Google has just released their own avatar based social arena a la Second Life, which is called Lively. It will require a client download and install like the popular MUD, but after that it can be accessed via IE and Firefox.
Lively allows user to create their own online spaces that can include natural or human-built settings and customize their avatars (which are relatively cartoonish in comparison to SL avatars). Google’s engineering manager for Lively [Niniane Wang] explains that they wanted to create a more socially rich environment than was possible with emotes and other chatroom features.
Lively’s core functions are not particularly novel, but it does innovate with various web integration features. Videos and images from the internet are viewable from within Lively, and users can embed their own personal Lively areas into their blogs or websites (hello VRML).
Lively is not nearly as expansive as Second Life yet, with no form of currency included and only stock items, clothes, avatars, and geometry to choose from. What’s more, it is only available for Windows XP and Vista, with no other OS support announced. We can see this getting better in the future, but those of you who’s lives are so great that you need a second one (or a third) will probably want to jump on this now.