recounting worldschat

Created in 1995 and released officially in 1998 by Worlds Interactive Inc., Worlds Chat is a free 3d chat program; the first of its kind.

Worlds was an innovation for the time and yielded what one could call modest success, popular amongst average early internet patrons and garnering support from large companies and celebrities such as Aerosmith, Britney Spears, and David Bowie, each represented by their own visitable "World" used to promote the brand. Users may also create their own virtual spots, with something called Shaper.

I'm going to cut to the chase, Worldsplayer and its hijinks are already decently documented these days and there's no statistics or cold hard facts I can present that aren't already available somewhere else, and probably with more stylistic flourish.
I want to talk about what Worlds means to me specifically,
and try to capture why it has become so ludicrously near and dear to my heart.

my first time

It's hard to commit anything to my memory but I think I first heard about Worlds in early 2020, either through a tumblr post I would see now and then showcasing a couple screenshots or through my friend mentioning she wanted to play, but any which way my interest was piqued.

It's funny, when I was younger I used to be really scared by basic 3d rendered environments- think out of bounds areas on a video game. It just creeped me out, these infinitely spanning fake-real places which definitely, in my imagination, harbored malicious glitches that could harm my computer and also come out from behind a one sided rect in the form of a skeleton and probably kill me. Nowadays I love that kind of stuff and feel right at home in these sorts of spaces. I think a lot of people do.

Tangent aside, the first night I logged on was eventful, looking back on it. After choosing my avatar from a gallery of eccentric characters I poked around and ended up at one of the default worlds, Animal House, where coincidentally a lot of people were gathered in the living room and I ended up as the stand-in bartender. Most of the users in this screenshot were regulars that I would come to be familiar with through nature of association.

Click this to listen to this page's playlist



Over the next week I would pay nightly visits to the increasingly interesting, strange vista of Worlds. Exploring the avatar customization features and each of the areas that to access, you must first download because they do not come packaged with your install and for some reason I was really irked by this. I made a lot of offhanded sardonic comments about how "I hate it here" or calling it my "favorite and least favorite 'game'" (WORLDSCHAT IS NOT A GAME) but really, I was having a wonderful time. I just like complaining on Discord.

It's quite an obtuse application, and by a certain point I got a little frustrated with missing textures and broken world urls which you're bound to come across. Worlds is a janky little thing held together by pins and needles and I say that with the utmost love and admiration. But, I stopped visiting for a few months.

Later in the year I felt renewed and was determined to become more savvy with the program, which in of itself was inspired by the userbase who know a lot more about computers than I do. I wouldn't know how to run a command line on my pc if it weren't for Worlds which is kind of embarrassing but ah..well.
I guess it's time I get into my main spiel:

the community

Alright. This is what I really wanted to talk about. There is something extremely comforting and grounding about Wandering through virtual landscapes composed of basic geometry and low-res textures, gaudy patterns, colorful digital architecture and midi-filled forests. But what I love most is knowing these places were created by people from over a decade ago, sat at their computer slaving away over Shaper which God only knows how they figured out I mean man, that %#@$ isn't easy.

It really warms my heart in a profound way that there is still a community of people who log on to this chat site from the turn of the century to converse, adventure, and yes, build more worlds. Did you know people still host events on here all of the time? Like trivia, poetry night, avatar contests, tours! There are guided tours every week to allow users new and old to peruse a curated selection of user-created worlds.

Ultimately, it is just a chatroom, but you'll find most everyone is very chill and friendly. It's likely someone will strike up conversation with you just by virtue of you standing there, or you'll feel inexplicably compelled to initiate one yourself. Even if admittedly I haven't made any strong connections like others have, I don't mind. The familiar faces and environment always keeps me coming back.

I've always been an internet vagabond, (as I suppose we all are,) weaselling my way into online communities and existing on the outskirts, and the experience of being a
Worlds user doesn't punish me for that.

everything's connected

I remember one night I was very upset, spiralling, caught in a loop.

After minutes agonizingly spent trying to decide between attempting to calm down or just going to sleep, I booted up Worldsplayer for some reason. Because I didn't really feel like doing anything else.

After wandering for a bit I came across a room in which there was only the skybox featuring stars spinning gently, lyrics in different colors making up the walls, and a giant player model of Nex rotating, just under the floor. Lol.

The world is called Agoraphobia,
assumedly after the song by Deerhunter that plays here of the same title.

I sat there feeling stupid at first that I was here when so many things were wrong. But after a while of listening to the music and peacefully existing in the space, I settled down from what I'm just going to admit was one of the worst nights I've had.

I thought about it, how someone out there (I don't know their username which is very unfortunate.) spent their time meticulously crafting this hangout on a quaint chat client from the 90s, how maybe this person was lonely sometimes as well. But because of that very reason, in that moment, I didn't feel so alone anymore.

My favorite world is a user-created one called A Walk, made by someone called Crystal_Tongue. It's a beautiful, brief experience where you simply move forward on a white path with a static sky, inhabited by white noise and tall, foreboding statues, accompanied by messages that appear on screen or generate in your chatbox.

At the end, you walk around a square area and enter through a doorway to be transported to what I call the spinny room. As you whirl around on a platform, the grand finale presents itself as a series of text blocks in the middle of your screen. This one speaks to me the most, I have it located on my desktop collage background.

There's something I really like about even the way the text often appears, stretched slightly and so low quality you can see the color bleeding around the edges of the font. I've adopted this style for some of the buttons on my site.

Extra fun fact, the background of my homepage is a screenshot too.
From Skyrim by dosfox I believe? I did not ask permission so if you are reading this..

in conclusion

If you had taken a shot every time I've typed "Worlds" up until now you'd be waaaasted.

But really, it's been so much fun exploring and getting to know the rich universe of the web's earliest online 3D chat software.

There's a lot more I could talk about, I can recall in recent history spending hours genuinely enraptured by staring at numbers and values, moving around walls in Shaper, or this or that particularly fun tour I joined, any of the dozens and dozens of unique worlds I've stepped foot in at this point, or the week-long crusades I went on to access some of them. Winning trivia and meeting new people, tuning into Worlds Radio (A community-led radio station, I dunno if they still do that but I liked it.), or that one time I tried to make my own avatar.

Sweet boy

It's something I'm really passionate about, even if I earnestly am not as involved as many others. I pray I haven't embarassed any actual regulars. Like, who the #$%@ is this guy? What authority does he have?

If you are interested in old internet stuff or just want to mess around with whatever it is you're seeing here,

Please check out

This webpage isn't intended as a knowledge hub but here are some cool sites I would've liked to have known about when I first started.

> Download Links
Remember to always start the application in Administrator Mode ;-)

> Worlds Chat Wiki

A site dedicated to internet archival containing lots of neat things

> Worlds Subreddit

> How To Enable Shaper
Used to build and manipulate worlds, very confusing

> How To Use Shaper

> Original Worlds Website

> ADI's Place
Just for fun, the site of the user who organized the Worlds meetup in 2000 :-P

> Custom 2d Avatar Tutorial

travel worlds
Once you've gone around and installed all the default worlds to ensure that more textures will show up correctly,
consider visiting one of these to broaden your horizons...

To use, copy and paste a url into the Change Location... field located under WorldsMark.

Jimbly's Beach GZ

AEE-Kath Info GZ

The Nexus GZ

Only a few screenshots, just to get the taste under your tongue

..Video I made of a little catgirl in a certain program

..A couple paintings of Animal House..