View of the future - Google's Lively

Google has quietly ventured into the virtual worlds space with a web-based 3D chat application called Lively

Lively, an instant messaging program that enables 3D avatar chat, in that it provides off-the-shelf avatars with teen appeal for socialising. It's a pretty simple: it's about chatting in rooms that can be customised to reflect your taste, and is nothing like as grandiose as something like Second Life or There. It's not a single persistent world, but a bunch of ad hoc virtual spaces that let people come together and show off their avatar identity through chatting and flirting.

Available in Google Labs.