This is another popular virtual world which is used alongside Second Life and Kaneva. But what does IMVU stand for? There are claims that it stands for ‘instant message virtual universe’ although there are a range of alternative answers on their forum.

IMVU has a variety of environments to choose from which include goth, sci-fi, fashion, rock and emo.

You have your own avatar which you can dress in any way you want and can create games which you play with others. As you will see, social interaction is the main theme. You can connect with people all around the world in a variety of ways.

Do you have to pay to use IMVU? Well, you can get basic access to the site which is free. This enables you to enter the world as a guest where you can produce your own homepage and talk to others. But you will have to pay for access to certain services, e.g. adult themes.

What many people do is to buy their avatar – rather than have a ‘guest’ avatar which also enables them to create their own content. You can sell virtual products as well as gaining access to additional sections of the forum.

Most people enjoy setting up their own homepage, customising their avatar, talking to other people via their avatars and buying virtual products.

There has been a shift from its small virtual spaces such as indoor rooms and gardens to entertainment and games which may be due to a decrease in popularity of virtual worlds. Conversely, gaming is becoming more and more popular, especially with adults which may also account for this shift in usage.

But how popular is IMVU with the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter?

IMVU and other virtual worlds are still used by certain groups of people but struggle to compete with social media. It may be a case of adapt and survive.

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