I met love in the Metaverse

Information sourced from VICE, with minor modifications, by Ross Buchanan

With an Oculus VR headset and a few witty pick-up lines, can I become a love expert?

I met love in the Metaverse

Composite image of the author wearing a META helmet, and his ALTSPACEVR avatar in VRCHAT.

It’s hard to imagine a concept that has gone from taboo to almost ubiquity as rapidly as internet dating. These days, I can’t remember the last time I asked a couple how they met and they didn’t answer “Hinge”.

I recently went on a Metaverse trip to see if it was possible to have a good night, and it turned out…very ordinary. Now I wonder if the Metaverse holds the key to the future of dating and love in the 21st century.

A brief overview of what the Metaverse actually means, contrary to what some might think, it’s not just one virtual world, but many smaller free-roaming worlds created by different developers with different concepts.

Luke Franks, host of the Welcome To The Metaverse podcast, explained this to me by saying, “Like different countries, you’ll go to different virtual worlds for different experiences, some will be completely gamified, some may be educational .”

While you can access many of these worlds on a laptop or desktop, recent advances in virtual reality technology have raised eyebrows from many of the big tech companies. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have all made some form of investment in the Metaverse, so it’s not a question of if, but when.

We’re still in the age of the Nokia 3210, though. Think about it: The big, bulky device, while exciting, is relatively primitive.But if there’s one thing we love doing on our old phones, it’s texting our crushes to express our eternal love, but it didn’t take long for us to say “sorry, that was from my friend lol” Excuse me to take back what I posted earlier.

In December, Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg told Reuters that the company “has been discussing the Tinderverse internally and it’s more about blurring the lines between offline and online”. If one of the biggest titans in dating today is interested in exploring the Metaverse, it’s safe to say it’s going to be a big deal.

First I met Chris Crew, the CEO of Planet Theta, the world’s first VR dating app. He arranged for me to take their Saturday night test. Since the app is basically in beta right now, any actual dating in Planet Theta is out of the question for me, but Crew told me via Zoom that four different types of places will be accessible on Planet Theta: micro-dating , coffee date, social area and dating area.

I met love in the Metaverse

Two people on a Planet Theta coffee date.

Micro-dating is the equivalent of swiping left or right, and the platform’s AI matches you with three different people based on your preferences, such as age, gender, and sexual orientation. Each appointment lasts a minute and comes pre-set with ice-breaking questions.

“We think in this minute, you’ll be able to decide if you’d like to spend a little more time with this person,” Crew said. There, you can invite them for coffee — “it’s a five-minute date, you can be more Learn more about a person”

You can date further in the app, or progress to real life dating – but Planet Theta is still in beta and I’m looking for ways to find love in the Metaverse right now.

I decided to talk to London-based dating expert Hayley Quinn, who gave me some of the best advice on romance, and hopefully some of it can be applied in the digital world. I’ve been with my current partner for five years, so I’m a little rusty when it comes to dating.

“Avoid asking questions you don’t really care about: Do you really need to know how long someone has been at his job?” Quinn said. “Try asking important questions like ‘what do you want to learn?’ or “What’s on your bucket list?”

Time to check it out. With the only custom dating app out yet, I had no choice but to find love in VRChat, an open-world desktop app that launched in 2014 and has leapt into the Metaverse. And I can wear pajamas, dressing gowns and slippers without having to prepare for a date.

I met love in the Metaverse

start entering the Metaverse

The Meta Quest 2 is beautifully designed, but it’s really heavy. After a while, I felt like my neck muscles were going to cramp, which isn’t the sexiest feeling when you’re trying to navigate love. I put the pain behind me and recalled the sheer size of the first generation of phones. Did the first merchants to get the phone complained? No, they didn’t.

After randomly picking a character and going through a very simple tutorial, I’m faced with 5 choices: “Relaxing Vibes”, “Play a Game”, “Home”, “Find avatar” and “Time to Party”. I decided to go to “Relaxing Vibes” in the hope that I could find a quiet corner where it would be possible to woo someone.

After a brief loading screen, I found myself in a high-rise apartment overlooking the serene city skyline. I wandered around and found a shabby room in the back where I felt a unique vibe and felt out of place, and decided it was time to leave.

I met love in the Metaverse

A mushroom and a frogman hook up in VRChat

Frustrated that I wasn’t trying any new dating techniques, and worried that it couldn’t be done without using a particular dating app, I went back to my dating mentor, Hayley Quinn. A good way to approach people, she told me, is to “begin by admitting what you’re doing, like ‘I’m sorry, I know I’m uninvited, but…’ because that’s going to go a long way in showing your social intelligence. .Be sensitive to your situation and make sure the other person is enthusiastically engaging in the conversation before continuing.”

Quinn also gives some advice for dealing with rejection: “If the other person doesn’t respond, have a great day and get out of there!” You only want to be around people who are as socially open as you are. “

I met love in the Metaverse

A man with a trash can on his head gets a tattoo of a pixie.

Of course, not everyone does well in the face of rejection. One of the main criticisms of the Metaverse is how these platforms protect women, people of different races, and the LGBTQ community. Obscene, sexual assault have all been reported in the Metaverse.

“The first thing I’m going to say is that people face a lot less abuse in VR than they do face to face,” Planet Theta CEO Crew explained on Zoom. “That’s not to say it’s It doesn’t exist – it’s real. People definitely get hurt emotionally and feel excluded. You can certainly feel violated in VR, but you don’t really get kidnapped. When you really feel You can turn the device off at any time when it’s not safe,” he said, pointing to the Meta helmet at Planet Theta headquarters.

But at least to me, the avatar does feel like an extension of the body. I hugged and stroked the avatar of my friend Viktor, the only person I know in the real world who has a Meta Quest 2, and while no actual nerves are pressed, you still feel the same as you let people into yours It’s the same feeling when it comes to personal space.

In Planet Theta, Crew says, they’re trying to address these issues by giving users the option to mute others and make them disappear from their sight. If multiple users tag someone in a short period of time, they will be kicked out.

“Strangers or people you don’t have a match for can’t reach you in VR,” Crew added. “They can approach you, but it’s roughly equivalent to two or three feet away.”

But what if I really wanted to approach people (obviously with their warm consent)?

My next adventure is into an app called AltSpaceVR, Microsoft’s answer to the Metaverse, which, according to their website, “is the leading platform for live, virtual events, enabling artists, brands and businesses to Easily design meaningful experiences that foster community and connection.” A meaningful experience that fosters relationships? Sounds like the perfect place to find love!

I confidently don purple hair, cargo pants, and a nice blue top for my character, and walk into AltspaceVR’s “bonfire” space. I immediately walked up to a couple who told me they had recently divorced and were here to meet and chat. I’d love to know more, but I’m also very aware that I might disturb them, and I remember what Quinn said about people not responding.

I felt like I might never find love in the Metaverse, and as I walked towards the entrance trying to get back to my home screen, a beautiful lady caught my eye with a mustache and a green soft Fedora hat, wearing the same overalls as me!

I met love in the Metaverse

Encounters in AltspaceVR

I was startled when she approached me!

We complimented each other for wearing matching overalls, hit it off right away, and agreed to play basketball in a quiet place. I made my first shot and she accidentally threw the ball to me. We ended up laughing at the end of the game.

We said goodbye after this short and lovely moment, but it is safe to say that she will always have a place in my heart.Also, somewhat poetically, I don’t even know her name.

I realized that if I stayed in the incredibly fit AltspaceVR I’d become someone who just used Facebook to send the word “boobs” to random people, I decided to go back to the more kind VRChat.

A brief encounter with the mustache lady boosted my confidence and I felt like I was going to take it a step further.

I met love in the Metaverse

my kangaroo avatar

I reopened the app and put on the Meta Quest 2. This time, I won’t hold back. I chose an image of a wallaby that is reminiscent of being young, single, and ready to make friends.

I went straight into the “Time To Party” portal and was teleported to another apartment that was slightly less dirty than before. Then I saw it: a staircase with “Love” in italics in a giant pink heart. This is what I’ve been looking for!

I walked down the steps and found myself at another portal called “Euro Club”. I’m standing in front of a prismatic building and before I enter I have to confirm that I’m over 18, have an “optimized” avatar (my wallaby passed the test), and I’ll play by the rules and not be dancing time to take pictures.

I met love in the Metaverse

Entrance to European clubs in VRChat

I tentatively walked through a door and into a dimly lit room filled with leather sofas and platforms stacked with avatars of all shapes and sizes in what I can only call “sex music” ‘ dance to the music. Green people, pixies and giant black mice all move their bodies to the beat. It’s hard to imagine that these people are real people wearing helmets in their living room at three in the afternoon.

“Sorry, I know I’m uninvited, but what’s the one thing you want to learn to do the most?” I said, leaning over a sexy man in a knight outfit.

Before I could answer, he leaned in and kissed me. “That,” he said confidently. My heart beat faster.

While there is no actual contact in the real world, it’s real enough in the Metaverse. success!

I took off Meta Quest 2 and it reminded me of our skepticism about online dating years ago and how common it is now. I looked at my wife and she was visibly laughing at what I just did with the helmet and the controller.

Maybe in a few years, “people we met at a digital basketball game” will be the new Hinge.

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