A PG-Rated Second Life

Sony PlayStation's new virtual world looks realistic, but it's as exciting as a day at the mall

The weather outside is frightful, but video games are delightful. So lately, I've been cocooning inside with Sony's PlayStation Home, and I think it's the most realistic-looking implementation yet of a 3-D world. The 17 million or so owners of the pricey PlayStation 3--which costs $400--can download a free beta version via Sony's PlayStation Network, which connects the game consoles on the Web so users can play one another.

Home is Sony's ambitious (albeit boringly named) attempt to create an online place for gamers to hang out in realistic virtual environments. So far, that includes a mall, a town plaza, a...