How I lived a week in the VR metaverse
Over the past few months, many tech companies have shared their latest developments towards the VR / AR metaverse. This new technological frontier has taken the entire industry by storm. The first to adapt to this new trend was Facebook; the company even went so far as to change its name to Meta to be seen as a Metaverse company rather than a social media company.
Think of the metaverse as a digital representation of the Internet where you can interact with objects using your virtual avatar. The best visual representation of this idea would be something like the Oasis in Ready Player One or Sword Art Online. Even though it is said that it could take 4-5 years to develop the metaverse, a raw form of it still exists in virtual reality (VR).
How does Metaverse feel?
I am committed to seeing what a future filled with VR, Augmented Reality and the Metaverse might look like in everyday life. Fortunately, I owned a Quest 2 VR headset, which I used as much as possible for work, entertainment, and socializing. So, to answer what it’s like to live in the Metaverse, I lived a whole week in VR, and here’s what I learned.
I have to say it wasn’t exactly a smooth transition from my PC to VR, but it has had its moments. Would you be surprised if I told you that I wrote this whole article in the VR Metaverse?
As my job requires me to multitask like most people, VR had a huge advantage – thanks to the multiscreen setup. Those who want to take it a step further can customize their entire room and setup (only in certain apps). When it comes to work efficiency, let’s say working in VR looks a lot cooler than it actually does.
Even though I ignore the battery life and the technical issues I faced during my working hours, there is still the issue of discomfort. Having a helmet attached to your head for long periods of time can be tiring for some people. This is especially true when trying to concentrate and work effectively.
But even with these issues, it wasn’t all bad. The most amazing thing about it was the immersion and a break from the monotonous experience of working from home. As many people around the world are in similar circumstances, I can see what a breath of fresh air this can be.
The multiscreen setup (shown in the images above) can be useful if you are a multitasking person. But in some cases, they can be quite distracting if you want to focus. If you think about the price of a multiscreen setup, this is the cheapest alternative, but it also has its limitations at the moment.
In a few years and a few generations of VR / AR headsets later, I can easily see how tech companies can fix these issues with better hardware and software. There might come a time when VR / AR headsets can become quite the norm in everyday life. A standard PC or laptop setup will not be comparable to a VR headset.
Gaming (Great but needs more games)
The main reason I bought my Quest 2 was to play VR games. However, after a few weeks the excitement of playing VR games waned. It’s not because the quality of the games was in any way inferior. Some of them, like Beat Saber, have even become one of my all-time favorite games. But the limited variety of games available is the main culprit.
Even when I tried PC VR, most of the games were all about shooting, which is great but overwhelms the medium if that’s the only type of content available. The potential of virtual reality is impressive, but few developers think in original ways to use this potential.
Perhaps it is for this reason that games like Beat Saber, Rec Room, and VR Chat are among the most popular VR games. These games are different from the conventional shooter games that you can find all over the industry. Watch the video below to see how different and fun the gameplay is compared to your regular games.
This is what virtual reality needs right now; different, ready-to-go games like we’ve never seen before. Imagine a real-time VR concert or an app that lets you visit iconic places in real time. These are the kinds of things that can move this medium forward.
During the Covid epidemic, the social aspects of the VR ecosystem stood out more than the others. Apps like VR Chat, Rec Room, AltSpace, and Bigscreen VR are topping the charts. I wanted to experience the kind of parasocial situations that these apps would put me in.
Big screen VR and VR chat
The first thing I tried was VR Chat, one of the most popular social apps on the platform. Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed. As I entered different fantasy worlds and interacted with other people’s avatars, I realized that this is what VR is for.
The absolute freedom of these applications allows users to create unique worlds. Over time, these worlds have become popular social spaces where people can interact. Of these, I have visited many nightclubs, bars, party rooms and VR chat groups. This is where I met like-minded people without even leaving my room.
One of the most enjoyable experiences in VR has been watching frenzied Marvel movies with my new friends. With so many OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, the need to go to movie theaters is diminishing pretty quickly. But I still lacked the experience of watching a movie in a movie theater. But thanks to Bigscreen VR, we were able to recreate part of that experience.
Like in classic video games, you might think you will only find guys or kids in VR, but no. To my surprise, VR seemed to be a popular medium. This is the first time I have seen a game with a balanced male to female ratio. Maybe that’s because you can be anyone in VR, even your favorite characters.
Metaverse might not be for everyone right now. It can be difficult to accept this as a viable platform for the masses, even in the future. This medium is intended for interested people, just like early adopters (like me). If at some point VR can be made accessible through our smartphones, that will be the turning point. But for now, smartphone-based virtual reality is dead.
The Metaverse is still a great support for gamers, given how cheap the entry point has become with the Meta Quest 2. As for the lack of games, you can expect more additions to the game. catalog in the years to come. It’s thanks to Facebook’s commitment to building Metaverse and many other tech companies.