I'm pretty chuffed to learn that Metaplace, a games startup that I'm an advisor to — closed a new round of financing today, netting $6.7 million from their existing VCs and Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz. Metaplace was started by Raph Koster, who created Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, with the idea of democratizing the creation of virtual worlds and games inside them.
Instead of gigantic, elaborate virtual worlds, like Warcraft and its competitors, Metaplace allows users to create modest, personal virtual worlds the way you'd put together a MySpace page, using a toolkit that unpacks into a series of ever-more-powerful tools that allow greater and greater customization. Users can then link up their Metaplaces, stringing together their worlds to make bigger, more complex ones.
There's an invite-only beta, and Raph's promised to update his blog whenever new invites are made available. Raph's one of my favorite people in the world, and he's a profound thinker about games (see his book A Theory of Fun [free PDF] for more). I'm really excited to see Metaplace thriving, even in the current crummy economy.