In my limited spare time I have started playing Second Life(SL. This is one of those massively multiple user universes in which you can create and interact with other people. I think these sorts of systems have a lot of potential for education as well as recreation. Indeed I belong to a second life group that is exploring these possibilities. The hardware and software both at the server end and the user end are not yet up to that task.
Second life has a nice scripting language that can be used to make sophisticated objects and simulations and it is lots of fun to build, and create your own avatars-alternate personas.
The first picture shows, Simeon Gateaux, my avatar in SL. He is pretty conventional.
But you can really modify just about all aspects of your avatar. For instance, I created a female avatar. Notice she is dressed in a traditional Japanese Kimono. I had just finished reading Memoirs of a Geisha, which by the way is a wonderful book (forget the movie) and the Kimono I bought from a clothing designer in SL.
I like the way you can do most anything in SL and some times some really amusing things happen such as one of my neighbors foam machine went crazy and covered my Heliport with blue foam.
I got a really neat Oriental type image that I hope to use as a basis for a real life(RL) painting:
The blue bubbly material is the foam and I am hovering above the ground inspecting the foam. The heliport itself actually is to the left just outside the frame. I was most interested in getting that sort of ethereal looking foam. SL has weather, and you might be able to make out a bit of late afternoon fog.
For more about second life go to http://www.secondlife.com
There is also a Second Life Wiki: http://http://secondlife.com/badgeo/wakka.php?wakka=HomePage
A basic SL membership is currently free, but if you want to do anything serious you need to buy land and there are a number of pricing tiers or levels. SL has its own currency the Linden which is convertible to dollars and players can buy and sell objects in game. Some players actually make their real life living out of what they do in the SL economy. Needless to say I am not one of them.
Oh if you join Second Life, tell them Simeon Gateaux sent you (I get a bonus) and look for me online in one guise or the other.