See Copyright and Usage Notice

Creating Your Own Avatar and Other Activities

As I was writing this book, it was possible to create your own avatar in Worlds Chat, and it was not easy. But hey, it is possible! Some Worlds Chat citizens make custom avatars, or use big avatar clearinghouses where people can choose a new avatar. Some of these avatars are copies of well-known personalities or cartoon characters (otherwise known as trademark violations), so if you are moon-walking around as Michael Jackson, and some blue-suited lawyer avatars start chasing you, you can't say you weren't warned. But seriously folks, picking out a personal original avatar is fun. I recommend that you start by paying a visit to Stingís Place (a Web site listed in the section, “Hot Spots: Web Sites by Worlds Chat Users”) where you can follow all the steps to get your own av. There are several other Web sites with custom avs and instructions on how to make them, also later in this chapter.

Join a Worlds Chat citizen group

One thing to do in Worlds Chat is to join one of the many unofficial citizen groups. The OPUS is an informal group of all-penguin avatars in Worlds Chat. Look for penguins and ask if they belong to OPUS. They have big, all black-tie affairs in the Rave Room.

Step on a crack and step off the station

If you manage to hit door hinges by the entrances to escalators "just right," you can get off the station. Floating in space, you can see people walking around in the hallways (and asking how you did it). They will see you as a tiny avatar in the distance, sometimes showing through walls. You can come back in by passing through the walls, although you still might be perceived as small. There are a number of places around the station where you can jump (I saw some people earlier who were trying to jump off an outside platform). Ask someone, and they might be able to tell you how to do it.

Hot Spots: Web Sites by Worlds Chat Users

Note that some of these Web page links may have changed, or the Web pages may have been discontinued. Consult your Avatars! book home page at for a more up-to-date list of links.

Official pages

The Worlds, Inc. home page is at

Custom avatars: get ‘em while they're hot!

Sting's Place is a pioneering Worlds Chat Web site full of custom avatars and instructions on how to integrate them into Worlds Chat. Sting hosts forums and gives oodles of helpful tips, especially for avatars who don't see eye to eye. Sting and his avatar clearinghouse hails from the Netherlands at

Eric Schuler's avatars are pretty wild; find them at

Y7ALANZO's avatars are as creative as they get; find them at

Beach Girl's avatars show a feminine touch at

From the Worlds Chat citizen community to you

WC Community Headquarters is at

Predawnia Universe, a cornucopia of resources for Worlds Chat, is at

The World Wide Chatter's Guild is at

From Sweden, check out the European Worlds Chat Guild at

Odinís, The WC Avatar Grade Book is at

Beach Girl's Worlds Chat Links, and an excellent links page to the WC citizen universe can be found at

Avatar's World Chat Pics, or see the "end of the world," which happened when the old Worlds Chat was destroyed to make way for a new version. Also see party coverage at

The Doctor, Worlds Chat Hall of Shame at

Worlds Chat gossip lines

The WC Tribe 2 supports a Powwow conference about Worlds Chat. You can register at

Katt's Litter Box, a little Worlds Chat scandal sheet, contains interviews with famous WC citizens like Sting, CRUZIN BIKER, and Jefe. "Katt's Chats" is at

Tilly Tells All: Goldgossip's Home Page is a place where you can get all the latest gab on Worlds Chat citizenry at

A Brief History of Worlds Chat

Worlds Chat was the very first three-dimensional avatar world to become widely available on the Internet, starting in April 1995. It worked so well that it inspired a whole generation of worlds, many of which appear in this book. I was using Worlds Chat and so did some investigation on how it was put together.

Worlds Chat Team

A super team put together Worlds Chat, including Dave Leahy, Andrea Gallagher, Wolf Schmidt, Judy Challinger, Syed Asif Hassan, Farshid Meshgali, Kurt Kokko, John Navitsky, Naggi Asmar, David Tolley and many others. Jeff Robinson (a.k.a. Scamper, the Combat Wombat) working with Helen Cho was World Chat's first artist, and is responsible for much of the "better-lit alien" look of the space station. Jeff's strange fascination with penguins and love of clever lighting illusions have left their permanent mark on Worlds Chat. Visit Jeff's home page at: and see his great Worlds Chat Tour at:

Worlds Chat history as told by Wolf Schmidt

Wolf Schmidt, a member of the team, kindly offered us the following history and stories from the world's first 3D avatar virtual world.

“What I can tell you is that Worlds Chat was meant as a demonstration of our multi-user technology, and as an active laboratory of what our servers could do. We had done corporate demos before April 1995, but they had never been widely distributed enough to get hundreds of people logged into the server at once. Dave Gobel (Worlds founder) was interested in the social computing aspects of the technology, and it was jointly decided that a good application of the technology would be to provide a 3D graphical parallel to the IRC and other chat popular on the Internet as of January 1995. The first WC came out in April 1995, and went through several versions on the client side, and meanwhile we occasionally changed the server and protocol in the background. The user base went from hundreds to thousands-plus, though our record for simultaneous users is still just under 1,000 real users at once. As a sort of plug here, no other multi-user servers to our knowledge can scale that well or carry that much load. Tests with bots (automated avatars) have run even more users at once."

Wolf continutes, talking about unusual things that have happened in Worlds Chat, including the saga of Tokie-D-Bear

"And a couple of stories I got: about eight months ago, there was this guy who called himself Tokie-D-Bear. He modified the cutesy "Blue Bear" avatar such that it was, from alternate angles, holding a large bong and a "phat" reefer, with a perpetual cloud of purple haze obscuring the head region. He put together a page called the Worlds Chat Tabloids, wherein he doctored Worlds Chat-related screen shots under headlines such as, "Vampire Moths seen attacking HubCenter," (with a screen shot of a boy avatar being decapitated by a menacing butterfly av), "Penguin Gangs on the Prowl," (with a screen shot of a penguin av holding an incriminating spray can near fresh graffiti in hub corridor), and "Tokie's Secret Crop Busted," (with a screen shot of plentiful marijuana fields pasted near old "infinite plain castle" in Chat version 08. Each article ran about eight paragraphs and featured amusing bogus quotes from, "Worlds Security Personnel." It ran for maybe three Web issues, and every time one came out, Dave L. and I would check it out and be rolling all over the floor. Scott Benson (our webmaster) remembers this page too, and remembers that Tokie had an access log to his pages. Tokieís log could be accessed by clicking the link, "See who the last 20 people to get high with Tokie were.” So of course Benson clicks the log and there's my name, Leahy's name, all "getting high with Tokie" with our e-mail addresses, and the domain. And now Benson's name too! Oops! Well, we promise we didn't inhale."

And next.. Wolf gives us Cure95 the bot-meister

Another tale from Worlds Chat: last August (1995), this robot avatar occasionally floated off the old ideas platform in version 07. This was before all the “fly off the platform” tricks you've seen in version 1.0, so we couldn't figure out how it got there. What's more, it would spew these outrageous quotes at random intervals, stuff like:

Bot: There are plenty of idiots in Congress.

Bot: But of course, I repeat myself.

Bot: -Mark Twain.

“It would come out in this format, and all in the same update, so we knew it had to be some sort of bot that someone had programmed, and we thought it was our guys in Seattle. No one had software to code an alternate client or knew enough about our protocol to duplicate one in a UNIX shell. Or so we thought. Later on, the bot developed Eliza-like (Eliza was a famous computer program of the 1960's that acted like a psychotherapists and actually tricked some people) reply capabilities to respond to certain words said or whispered to it. It was fun watching other users gradually figure out that there was no one behind the curtain.

“Another bot soon appeared that was literally a pipe to an IRC client: somewhere out there, the bot's owner had created an IRC channel on an outside IRC server, and had devised a way that anyone who talked to the bot in Worlds Chat would be heard on IRC, and the bot would chat in Chat to say anything that was heard through IRC, with secondary attributions to avoid confusion, which appeared in Chat something like this:

IRC: Benny_4-> Hey, am I really talking to people in WC?

“A nifty bit of programming. These things hung around in Chat for a little over two weeks, and we eventually discovered that both bots were the property of a UNIX coder in Chicago who called himself Cure95. In a very short time, he had hacked nearly the entire chat UNIX multi-user protocol by checking his inbound and outbound packets and comparing how the packets changed when he performed certain actions. By hacking the teleport redirect coordinates, he could place his bot outside the platform railing, and by hacking the message subprotocol, he could parse strings and send multiple messages much faster than anyone could type. Whatís amazing about this is that during this whole time he crashed our server only once, and perhaps not at all. It was an excellent de facto test of the robustness of our server protocol. In retrospect, we should have hired the guy. Since then, we've put in checks of message origin to prevent this sort of fooling around, but I was impressed with his inventiveness and the speed at which he could figure out new aspects of the protocol, and what to do with it.”

[Jackie.. this is all new]

Digi's Diary: The rise of the Homo Cyborgiens

Wolf Schmidt's stories of Worlds Chat hackers Tokie-D-Bear and Cure95 just relayed to us tell us something that the Cyberpunks have known for years: there is a new species of human being on the loose: Homo Cyborgiens. What is Cyborgiens? He or she is a hybrid between the highest form of hacker, an ambidextrous communicator, and an impersonator and artistic impresario par excellence. And Cyborgiens' mutation occurs in the mind as the cortex purrs with bit pulses and its folds reach through limits of space and time to stroke the great dark sinewy body of the net. In the coming Century and Millennium beyond, Cyborgiens will step further beyond what the rest of us know as ënormalí consciousness. Cyborgiens will affect our lives and the future of humanity and the Earth's Biosphere more than we can now know. You cannot go into space and see the Earth from orbit or the moon and remain unchanged. Astronauts have taken us to that place through their photographs and words and changed the daily reality of millions of people who will never see the sun rise or set in the same light again. Cybernauts entering digital space in the spacecraft of their own minds may bring us to frontiers of abstract and complex worlds which will so change us that we just might be able to survive in the truly abstract and complex universe.

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.