Dating in Metaverse is Hard.
Dating in Metaverse is Hard.
I’m on a first date, but I have my sweats on, without any makeup, my hair is wet and I am sitting on my couch at home.
My date, Steve, has no body. He has only a floating face and a pair of white hands.
“Weird to be a white dude,” he jokes. I realised that I have no idea what he really looks like, how old is he or what his real name is. We are meeting on a blind date in the metaverse, and my avatar is talking with Steve’s avatar at a virtual rooftop bar, while I sit in my Manhattan apartment.
Steve and I were matched up on Foretell Reality, an app that creates VR worlds for different types of interactions, like therapy, business meetings and, now, date coaching.
I prepared for my big metaverse date the way I do for any date: Face-Timing my best friend, who also resides in New York City. I had absolutely no insights or prospects to share, which made me a bit anxious. I knew nothing about what the guy would be like, though before the date began I sent my “datingverse” coach, Grace Lee, a summary of what I’m looking for, specifically a man who is outgoing and career-oriented.
A few minutes before the date started, I donned my Oculus headset and grabbed my hand controllers. On the Foretell Reality app, I created an avatar that looked ambiguously like me, and then went into a private virtual room.
There, I entered a code given by Lee. It quickly took me to an outdoor rooftop bar with views of the ocean and a city skyline. It looked like a mid-aughts video game. I could vaguely hear people’s chatter around me which is a looped track that plays through the Oculus headset — and when I turned my head, I saw a virtual bar where a bartender avatar made drinks.
Lee met me on the roof, where her avatar’s long black ponytail vaguely resembled the pictures of her I’d seen on Instagram. Soon, a blond male head appeared on the seat next to me. A floating label directly above his head read Steve.
We greeted each other, and then Lee explained how to date in the VR world. She had us looking each other “in the eyes.” VR headsets do not have the technology to read and display facial expressions, so I blankly stared into Steve’s slightly twisted and blank animated brown eyes in an attempt to forge some sort of connection. But I felt nothing and it was just awkward.
Lee clarified that the lack of facial expressions and full-body language in the VR world means that we have to depend on our verbal communication. However, we could use hand gestures to communicate by putting our controllers down and moving our hands in front of the headset.
Then, Lee told the plan. She would give us two questions and then disappear out of our view while Steve and I talked for some time. And, no pressure as all the conversation would be recorded so that Lee could go back and critique us.
Lee’s first two questions were “What’s your favorite TV show?” and “How’s dating working out for you?”
I talked about how happy and excited I am about the final season of “Grace and Frankie.” Steve, who had a deep voice that may or may not have been digitally changed, talked about his favorite anime show, which was of no interest to me.
Then we got a little personal, and I was a little hesitant. Steve talked about how COVID, moving and his job have dulled his love life.
“Wish I had some cool stories to tell you,” he said. I tried my best to make him feel better, agreeing with him that it had been hard. But in reality, I had lots of hysterical pandemic dating stories, but I abstained from sharing them. I was worried it might scare Steve off, of how vigorous my romantic life was. I changed the subject.
We then talked about Mike Tyson beating up a fan, Steve’s life and how was it growing up in Michigan and my family’s love of sports. At some point, we got stuck on weird topics like talking about debutante balls, and then Lee whispered in my headset to change the topic.
Then Lee came back on-screen and played back some of our date to us, where she critiqued us and noted when the conversation was stuck and when things felt natural and easy.
Steve admitted that some of his jokes (like he was teasing me about going to my friend’s debutante ball) didn’t land and that he depends on comedy to avoid getting personal.
Lee told me that I often echoed Steve’s energy and language in a subliminal attempt to make him feel more comfortable which is a good thing. But, sometimes, I’d let him talk too long on weird topics.
Then it was time to end our date. I took off my headset, ending the date. It hadn’t been a romantic meeting, but it was a learning experience.
And that is exactly what Lee wants. She doesn’t expect people to fall in love and connect with users afterwards unless they have requested it — but wants to help them to communicate better.
I didn’t ask to meet Steve again — if that’s even his real name or go to bed dreaming about his floating avatar head. But I am going to use some of what I learned in the metaverse in real life.
by ichhori.com Reference: ichhori.com