Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Best Games Like Second Life – Top Alternatives in 2018

What is Second Life?

Second Life is an online multiplayer game, where users create an avatar who will literally carry out their second life. They have fully customizable names, occupations, and appearance. You’re able to explore the virtual world that you live in and socialize, play games, create, and shop. (The primary currency in the game is the Linden Dollar, which costs real life money to obtain.) Creation is a pretty large part of Second Life’s “gameplay”, with sophisticated 3D modeling and scripting tools integrated into the game. This enables users to really tap into their creative side and make something that can be appreciated by the entire community.

The game is primarily aimed at an older user, from late teens forward. That isn’t to say that there aren’t younger players, but you are going to be predominantly encountering users between the ages of 16 and 30. Second Life has always been a fairly popular game, attaining a lot of recognition for being a more mature 3D chatroom-style game, enabling users to forge meaningful relationships with people around the world. Still, maybe you’re looking for another game. Maybe you’re bored with Second Life, or you’re just looking for something a little different. In this article, I’ll talk about the top five best games that are similar to Second Life. Let’s jump right into it.

5. Garry’s Mod

As I mentioned before, one of the coolest components of Second Life is the ability to create things in such a rich way. Whether you want to design your own furniture or script your own mini-game, there is a world of possibilities available to the player. Not to mention, the majority of the time that you spend playing Second Life will be spent in a user-created environment. In that right, Garry’s Mod is very similar. Pretty much the entirety of Garry’s Mod consists of user-created servers and games. This game gives you all of the tools that you may need, and they let you run wild with them. In fact, I think that this game lets you create much more comprehensive creations than Second Life does.

garrys-mod The primary distinction between Garry’s Mod and Second Life, however, is that Garry’s Mod doesn’t place as much of an emphasis on socialization. Although the games are multiplayer, and you can really easily find some roleplaying servers, the primary emphasis is placed on playing games. In Second Life, people will spend a lot of time creating a nightclub that’s meant to just be a nightclub. You go to it, and you stand around and talk with people. That isn’t really what people do in Garry’s Mod. People play this particular game to play, which is a little different from what you might find in Second Life. Still, if you enjoy the creating aspects of Second Life, then you’ll probably really enjoy this game.

4. Twinity

twinity Twinity is sort of like a Second Life clone, but I think that it has seen a bit of an evolution over the years. Initially, the game separated itself with a simple gimmick: players were able to explore recreations of actual real-life locations. It was an interesting idea, and it allowed an entirely different level of roleplaying that hadn’t really been seen in other games before. The recreations were pretty accurate, and they were fun to play around in. It was interesting to be able to just walk around an actual city, in a virtual world. However, Twinity decided to ditch this feature and opt for a more traditional social multiplayer experience, instead deciding to focus traffic on user-created environments.

So, you basically are dealing with a game that I would equate to a poor man’s Second Life, honestly. Everything that Twinity does, Second Life does slightly better. However, it’s still a solid game, and if you enjoy Second Life, you’ll have a good experience. They’re very similar, allowing users to create avatars, furnish rooms, and meet all different kinds of friends. The game isn’t quite as populated as the other games on this list, but it’s still relatively busy at most times of the day. It may be the closest to a true alternative on this list, since it’s so similar. If you’re looking for a near-identical, but slightly different experience, then this is probably the best bet for you on this list.

3. Gaia Online

gaia-online Gaia Online is a game that started from humble beginnings, as an anime-related message board. Over time, however, the game was built upon, and it has become a highly popular over the years. In Gaia Online, you’re able to create an avatar, chat with others, and play all different kinds of games. In my opinion, it’s very close in popularity to Second Life, and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. The game is updated with new items and events pretty often, which means that there’s always something new to come back to. This game has been out for a really long time, but it doesn’t ever really feel stale.

The largest difference between this game and Second Life comes down to style. Second Life is more of a realistic game — it’s meant to literally represent someone’s second life. However, Gaia Online is a little more anime-inspired, which means that avatars, rooms, and games are more cartoonish in nature. This may be a deal breaker for some people, so I thought I would at least bring it up. Plus, this game doesn’t put as much of an emphasis on user-created rooms. Although they exist, they’re not usually as popular as other Gaia-created hangout spots, or the message boards. The demographic for this game also doesn’t trend as old as Second Life’s, with the mass majority of users being in high school or college. Still, Gaia Online is a really great social platform, and it’s perfect for someone who is looking for something that’s a little stylistically out there.

2. Habbo Hotel

I like to think of Habbo Hotel as the happy medium between Gaia Online and Second Life. It has the same cartoon-ish style, while still retaining some of Second Life’s core features. In Habbo Hotel, you create an avatar who explores a hotel. This hotel consists primarily of user-created rooms. (There are a few “official” rooms, but user-created rooms are much, much more popular.) These rooms can serve a variety of different purposes — some of them are games, some of them are for roleplaying, some of them are for making friends. This is really, really similar to the kind of thing that you’ll find in Second Life.

habbo-hotel It’s really fascinating, because Habbo Hotel sort of has its own culture. The game has been around for ages, and it’s cultivated its own different game and room types, as well as its own social norms. It’s a very rich community that I think someone coming from Second Life would really appreciate. Like pretty much every other game on this list, it’s not quite as busy as it was during its peak, but it still is regularly pulling in several thousand active users at once. The only reason why I decided not to give Habbo Hotel the top spot on this list is because I think that you can find a similar community, level of popularity, and overall similarity to Second Life on the next game on this list. However, this is probably my personal favorite game on this list, and I think it definitely deserves some kind of nod.


In my opinion, IMVU and Second Life are two birds of a feather. They look similar, they feel similar, they attract a similar userbase, and they are pretty close in concept. IMVU stands for Instant Messaging Virtual Universe, which basically means that it’s meant to be a standard chat room that is set in a 3D world. Second Life is built upon a pretty similar idea. All of the emphasis in this game is placed on socialization, and there isn’t much in the way of actual gameplay. You’re going to spend the majority of your time in this game talking with others, and making friends.

imvu-dancing Pretty much anything that you can do in Second Life can be done in IMVU. Players create an avatar, create rooms, and interact with others in their own rooms. Although it doesn’t have creation tools that are quite as comprehensive as Second Life’s, I personally don’t think that many games do. This game is pretty much the best that you’re going to get. Not to mention, the massive ongoing marketing campaign that this game has had over the years means that it’s pretty much always populated. IMVU lets you mess around as an entirely different person, and they allow you to make all sorts of friends while doing so. That’s pretty much all that Second Life is meant to do, so IMVU is really the ideal alternative. If you want to take a look at some games that are similar to this one, feel free to check out this other article that I wrote, on games like IMVU.

And those are some of the best games like Second Life in 2017, in my opinion. Did I miss one of your favorites? Do you know of any hidden gems that you’re eager to talk about? Feel free to tell me about them in the comment section below.

Jake Briscoe
Jake Briscoe
Jake is passionate about everything tech, film, and gaming related. If he's not writing you can probably catch him at a local sporting event or coffee shop.


  1. The main difference beetwen Second Life and the games you describe is that Second Life (SL) is not ONLY a game. It’s a virtual world, where the content is user created, with a virtual currency (The Linden Dollar, that you cas exchange with real US dollars). Also you can rent space and use it the way you see fit ! And in that virtual world, you can play if you want, but also raise money for charities, expose your artwork or show your singing skills, gain money by selling your inworld creations to other Residents… anything your can think of !
    The main contender to Second Life is, for now, OpenSim wich is like an open source version of Second Life. It lacks the massive audience of SL, and suffered to be implemented on many diferent Server clusters, but now it use Hypergrid, wich permit you to visit other Onpensims from your own “home” Opensim”.
    And Linden Lab is working on a new virtual world, a project named “Sansar”, that could be the biggest contedder to Second Life.

  2. As DD Ra said, SL isn’t a game, it’s purely a virtual world, although there are groups that create their own games within SL on private sims.

    However, SL is all but a ghost town now; fespite LindenLab’s constant denial, it’s a simple fact and they only have themselves to blame.

    The Linden Dollar (aka L$) is (also as DD Ra points out) exchangeable for real USD. Individual land barons of the past have cashed in upwards of USD 1.7m every single year. People of the past were able to quit their real life jobs and live quite comfortably on what they earned in SL.

    Most of that is gone now and the original land barons own almost 50% of non-LindenLabs owned land, which makes it tough for any remaining ‘residents’ (because people have left SL en mass) to earn anything via the real estate market anymore.

    It’s a sad state of affairs, scheduled to become far worse when LL release the unanticipated and underwhelming ‘Sansar’ – supposedly a sequel to SL, but far more limiting and restrictive.

    It’s a pity that Sansar will drag what remains of SL into non-existence along with it.

    • SL is far from being a ghost town. The most popular regions (with beauty stores like mesh avatars and hairs) have dozens of people at all times and are almost always full. The Adult regions are very populated and the difference between then and now is that the vast majority of the SL population has shifted from G to A regions. G is very empty except for newbie regions, M is populated in the popular store regions, and A is full of people in the sex areas (like strip clubs, sex playgrounds and adult sandboxes).

  3. After seeing Second Life being called a game multiple times I just skimmed the rest as the article became irrelevant as the writer does not know what is and what is not a game. There really is not a single element or game mechanic in it that says “This is a game”. I think people call it a game because the see people’s avatars walking around in third person perspective and therefore it must be a third person shooter game? The interface is the only comparison. Games have objectives programmed into them. Even Sandbox games where you can “go anywhere do anything” (which you actually can’t do anything, at least not with out a lot of hacks and cheats) you have objectives, missions, some measure of progress. In Sandbox games sure you can run around and just do nothing but the game elements are all completely there.
    A virtual world is pretty much, here is a blank slate and some tools to create if you choose to. Go at it. There are no objectives, missions, measuring sticks for progression, no boss monster to fight etc. HOWEVER. People that create content can and do create games within that virtual world. So there CAN be games within that virtual world just as there are games to be found to play in real life. Virtual Worlds just have no game elements any more than say posting on facebook does. Virtual Worlds are very much like that scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke asks what is in the cave and Yoda responds “only what you take with you”

    • It’s very much a game, regardless of what it means to people does not change the fundamental fact of what it is. it’s a game people take very seriously, others not so.
      Second life is an MMO Sandbox game that encourages RP elements of varius degree’s, powered by user created content, it is equally diverse in it’s player base.

      • It’s not a game in itself. It’s a virtual world. In that virtual world, you can create all sorts of games and play them. you can also attend real school, for real credits. You can go to meetings and spiritual gatherings. It very much can be a second life. the main difference is you control a virtual representation of yourself and live inside the virtual world. However, it can be approached like a game, which is a typical thing for many noobs to do.

  4. “Pretty much anything that you can do in Second Life can be done in IMVU.” The truth is that in IMVU you can barely do 0.5% of what you can do in SL.


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