From WSJ about an video game launched by There, whiich is hoping that “people pay real money to help virtual characters buy make-believe stuff”:
There hopes to be paid by companies such as Web portals and ski resorts to build themed virtual destinations for promotional purposes or to produce revenue.
The company’s monetary policy is even more striking. There will give users ways to earn fictitious currency that they can spend on virtual homes, entertainment and goods. For example, members are expected to try on and buy virtual shoes from Nike Inc. and apparel from Levi-Strauss Co. at animated kiosks in There, and buy real-world items by clicking on an Internet link.
In the virtual world created by the start-up There, characters explore, flirt and play, sometimes with virtual pets, in a range of exotic settings that includes a dark forest, a tropical island, a city in the clouds and a replica of ancient Egypt. They can chat and display emotions based on typed commands.
The key difference in There: Users will also be able to trade real money for play money, using credit cards to buy additional “Therebucks” beyond those they earn or those that come with their subscriptions.
A related story from San Jose Mercury News:
I contrast to the ordinary towns and cities of “he Sims Online,” There is creating exotic destinations: a tropical resort, the Egyptian pyramids, a cloud city and a realm with dark forests and glowing crystals. Users can explore the world in dune buggies or “hoverboards” that are like surfboards that float a few feet off the ground.
What really sets There apart is its lifelike avatars, or the characters that allow the users to express themselves in the world. Users can tailor these alter egos to look like themselves and wear fancy clothes from Nike or Levi.
The objects and the avatars don’t necessarily look real, but they move with realistic physics, so that a walking person has correct movements. Users can type messages to others, and their avatars can act out the emotions related to the words that the user types. Users also can talk in their own voices.