I spent a month in the metaverse for L’Éclaireur

“A virtual reality construct destined to supplant the Internet, merge virtual life with real life and create endless new playgrounds for everyone – you will be able to do almost anything you imagine. “ Mark Zuckerberg, the Meta (Facebook) boss knows how to make us dream with his future metaverse. But, concretely, how does it happen?

Test the metaverse. Ok but how? Aside from the US and Canada, it is not yet possible to access Horizon Worlds from Meta. But I have at least the basics: a virtual reality (VR) headset. There are several models produced by different brands: Oculus (Meta), HTC, Sony, Valve… In this case I bought an Oculus Quest 2, which is the most popular model at the moment. It is sold for € 349.99 and produced by … Meta, who bought the company in 2014. Mark Zuckerberg’s group is trying to mark the entire path to the Web3, heralded as the new Internet. A world in which the current Internet giants (Meta, Google, etc.) should no longer dominate the roost. But, at the moment, they are the ones who are investing the most in this fantastic Web3.

Oculus Quest 2: total immersion

I have a virtual reality headset, so it remains to find out what to do with it. After watching some VR videos, I understood the principle. Experience the roller coaster, the Everest expedition, the discovery of space aboard the ISS … There are many possibilities to experience immersion in virtual worlds.

Using the climbing game The climb 2, now I’m learning to use the controllers that come with the helmet… and I understand how easy it is to get nauseous sitting without moving at the back of your sofa. The sensations are very real when I lose a grip and fall several meters along an alpine wall. Worse: my arms hurt from virtual climbing, because I paralyze the muscles on imaginary holds. Question immersion, no doubt, works completely. But what about this virtual world which is the metaverse?

Alone on the beach, abandoned

On the virtual interface of the viewer, I find an app called Villa: Metaverse Creation & NFT Collaboration Platform. I unload, I install. First surprise: to access it I have to pay $ 9.99 for a month. The promise ? A luxury metaverse with a personal villa by the sea, to be decorated with NFT paintings and where to receive friends by the pool. The (virtual) reality? A type of Second lifebut not at the peak of its popularity, in 2006. No, rather a Second life of today, that is… empty.

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First of all it is very beautiful. The problem is when you start getting close. The villa lies on a sort of flying carpet over a fine sandy beach. Very soberly furnished or completely empty rooms, no or hardly any activity … We made the rounds quickly. Only the giant aquarium in the center of the house is fun for two seconds. But this metaverse has an option: that of being able to fly over the elements and move like Superman in the air. Again, after two minutes of fun, we are a little dissatisfied. It’s okay to move around in a virtual universe, but if you wander aimlessly, interest is limited.

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Especially since the surrounding decorations are made of cardboard. Taking a walk along the water or approaching the surrounding hill is a bad idea. The closer you are, the more pixelated the image will be. And if we “get into” the furniture, then there is absolute darkness. As for the “friends” to invite, not an avatar on the horizon during my multiple connections. So no one at least to get to know each other, much less to invite near my poolside brazier. Not quite a “sweet villa” as I thought, more like a cardboard movie set. And I, alone on the beach, abandoned. In short, it was probably the worst $ 9.99 spent of my life. I was right to create an alert on my phone to remind me to unsubscribe in less than 30 days.

On the attack Roblox

New strategy: I launch a Google search: Web 2.0 is still very useful for this. On request “How to test the metaverse”, not quite an answer in French. On the other hand, I find more tracks in English. Here is what I recommend to go and see on the side of the online game Roblox. Let’s join this popular platform that has an infinite variety of immersive 3D worlds created by the community itself. Roblox has grown exponentially in recent months, from 32.6 million daily active users in 2020 to nearly 50 million in 180 countries in 2021. Today it has 230 million and its valuation is around 20 billion dollars.

Originally dedicated to children, Roblox it is gradually reaching out to an adult audience and attracting more and more brands: Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Chipotle, Kellogg’s, Samsung … The list of communications operations and other marketing events continues to grow. Space Nikeland thus attracted approximately 6.7 million people from 224 different countries between its launch in November 2021 and March 2022.

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There is no direct connection to the helmet for the connection. You have to go through a computer and Oculus Link software to view it in the headset. So I have to create my avatar or choose a ready-made one. If, from a diving standpoint, I’m dissatisfied – the design of the Roblox universe is minimal to say the least – at least there are people to talk to. Roblox encourages interactions and discussions. Milky_Way_56, SwanStone22 or even AwsomeKitten cross me over the hours spent walking in different universes. It’s hard to know who is really behind each profile. Man or woman. American, Indian, French. Young or old… Everyone creates their own character. This is the whole principle of metaverses. And this is the whole wealth of Roblox : a wide variety of imaginary worlds and atmospheres. In addition, around 7 million developers participate in the implementation Robloxthis diverse platform.

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There is no doubt, however, to stabilize: real estate speculation in these virtual worlds is very real and the prices are absolutely delusional. Anyway, I’m a homeless metaverse …

What do we do in the metaverse, besides wandering randomly? Even though these parallel worlds are still in their infancy, there is a lot to be done. For example, the yoga brand Alo (acronym for air, Earth, Oceanie air, land, ocean) offers a “sanctuary” in Roblox . On this island it is possible to practice mindfulness with daily guided meditation sessions, but also to take free yoga classes. I installed my “real” yoga mat in my living room and found myself, through the Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset, in a very relaxing environment. Sound bath and light lapping of the waves, I go to the Alo Store to get my yoga mat – virtual this time – before entering the lesson area.

Posture of the triangle, of the tree … Once each position “found” by the system based on the approximate location of its body thanks to the levers, it becomes very easy to reproduce it with a simple combination of the fingers. We can therefore happily cheat if we wish … Conclusion? Watching a video on YouTube, classes on fitness services like Apple Fitness + or even a session with a particular teacher on video is just as interesting, but let’s say the experience has the merit of existing.

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Alo Island has already been visited more than 32 million times since its launch. But it must be said that the brand also proposes a search to find clues that allow you to win gifts, which are very real.

Recruiting, insurance agent, gigs, luxury brand launches …

Brands and large groups multiply their initiatives in the metaverse. Adidas Originals has already sold NFT in December 2021. Unique tokens, each sold for 0.2 ether, or around 700 euros over time, which will then allow access to “physical” clothing collections. In Axa, an insurance agent from northern France has chosen to offer his services both in his physical agency in Bully-les-Mines (Pas de Calais) and in the Gather metaverse since last April. The artists also tried the virtual concert experience on Horizon Worlds. Las, David Guetta, Young Thug or The Chainsmoker didn’t attract crowds. Probably due to a lack of sufficient users on this platform at the time (end of December 2021), because the concerts organized on the video game Fortniteby rapper Travis Scott had gathered several million attendees.

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So, this month in the metaverse? To say I was dissatisfied is a mild understatement. As in the dawn of many social networks of their time, you have to accept to overcome a laborious path to finally perceive the essence of these new universes and understand their interest. By making connections with other avatars, mastering codes and usages, taking advantage of the good plans offered by brands that invest heavily in the “to see” metaverse, there is no doubt that perception will evolve. Maybe I’ll even become addicted, just like today I can’t do without Instagram or Twitter. For now, I’m going to start working on how my avatar looks … and something tells me I’ll have enough time to perfect it.

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