Sony Unveils Virtual World 'Home' For PS3

Bob Preston
CYBERSPACE — Sony has unveiled a new virtual realm open to all users of its Playstation 3 home entertainment system.

It's called Home, and users of Linden Lab's Second Life will recognize the basic trappings of Sony's new endeavor. Like Second Life, Home lets user build a detailed, animated avatar that they can use to travel around various virtual cities and clubs.

But Home will differ from Second Life in scope and tone. Because Sony's new service will be so closely associated with a video game console, the virtual experience will cater to gaming and gamer culture. In addition, Home won't offer wide-open spaces and full conceived worlds of Second Life, instead opting for a series of smaller spaces.

Tech writer Dean Takahashi got to try out Sony's new virtual reality.

"Home isn’t really a world," he wrote for "It’s more like a series of virtual spaces. If you want to visit your own personal apartment, where no one can visit without your permission, then you teleport there. If you want to go to the central plaza, you teleport there. Same goes for the bowling alley or the bar from the game Uncharted. You’re free to decorate your home as you wish. If you want to listen to music, you can walk up to a jukebox."

As for its focus on gaming, Takahashi said that Home will let players collect trophies earned during gameplay and occasionally visit realms from actual games with their avatars.

Other companies set to create content for Home include Activision, Disney Eidos, Electronic Arts, Lucas Arts, THQ, Ubisoft, Ligne Roset and Diesel – but will there be room for adult?

The terms of service for Home don't prohibit adult content, instead warning users that they might encounter objectionable content. The service is so new that no virtual red light district has had time to appear, but a brief glance at the history of sex in Second Life might be informative.

Second Life offers specific areas, from sex clubs to orgy rooms, where users can engage in all kinds of sexual activity, all of which costs money, according to tech writer Mitch Wagner.

"Users can buy outfits to dress their avatars provocatively, or 'skins' to make them appear nude," he said. "Default avatars have no genitalia, so users need to buy them."

This sexy cottage industry has spawned all kinds of uses, including virtual madams to virtual sex slaves – and they all make money. Second Life user Tiffany Widdershins owns a virtual bordello called LuvRags.

"One learns a lot about the truth of of human nature from charging guys to pay for cartoon sex, and then watching them flock to it," she said.

For more information, visit Home's official website.