Rock or Rome: 2 New Virtual Cities

Two new virtual urban zones have rolled out their welcome mats. Should you be yearning to prowl around Manhattan’s Lower East Side, head to VLES, the spawn of Vice magazine. There’s a heavy emphasis on music, with info on neighborhood clubs and MP3s by bands like Les Savy Fav. You can create an avatar to roam Ludlow Street. If you’ve ever wanted to be, as VLES puts it, “a 9-foot-tall anemic punk boy with no shirt,” here’s your chance.

Another recent launch shows an earlier urban power base: a digital recreation of ancient Rome called Rome Reborn 1.0. Three universities collaborated on the tremendously thorough historic model. It shows Rome at the height of its power in AD 320, and includes the interiors of key buildings like the Colosseum. We’re guessing there’s little demographic overlap between these two projects — with the exception of fans of the HBO show Rome.

Jennifer Paull