So here's the situation. You rather like the idea of online, multiplayer environments. But you're not really a sci-fi buff, so you really want something that isn't full of monsters, dragons, dungeons and spells. Second Life isn't really a game, and anyway it's not particularly cool any more.
If that sounds like you, read on. And if you like playing car racing games, I have just what you've been looking for.
Need For Speed World is a multi-player online game but it's based around the world of car racing sims. So instead of wandering around the lands in search of monsters to kill, you drive around the city in your racing car at your own pace, exploring the in-game world. As well as exploring the world and earning points and rewards, you can chat online to other players. And of course, a race is only a mouse-click away if you're in the mood for some thrills.
Need For Speed World is free to download and play. There are some paid-for optional extras that you can buy once you're in the game, but there's no real need to do so. Just head to http://www.play4free.com/en/need-for-speed-world and sign up for an Electronic Arts online account, then choose Need for Speed World from the list of downloadable games to install on your PC.
Sign-up is quick and easy. You'll need to enter an email address and choose a password.
Before you head to the site, one word of warning. Need for Speed World is a brilliant game, but it's an enormous download. If you want the full experience, with the best graphics, the download is 1.2 GB in total. That's 1200 MB. If you're not on a broadband connection, don't even think about it. And even if you are, make sure that a download of this size won't tip you over your monthly limit if you have one.
My thanks to Panzer for pointing out this great game to me.