Trapped in the Metaverse: Here’s What 24 Hours in VR Feels Like | WSJ

– Now the best way to
understand the metaverse is to experience it yourself. (alarm beeping) (upbeat music) – I definitely don't
feel very well right now. And you wouldn't feel well either if you attempted to spend 24 hours living in virtual reality or the metaverse. Don't know what the metaverse is? That's okay, I'm not
sure anyone really does. But Meta, formally known as Facebook, Microsoft and more are defining it as the virtual world
that is the next phase of the internet. In this world, we have digital versions of ourselves or avatars. – And we call this the metaverse. And you're gonna be able
to do almost anything you can imagine. Get together with
friends and family, work, learn, play, shop. – So I decided why wait? And stupidly I dared myself
to visit the metaverse for a full 24 hours in its
current not-so-great state.

In fact, Meta and others will tell you that the metaverse isn't even here yet. But the best way to see the start of it is through virtual reality. And since I didn't
wanna pop into a headset with my kids running around, I packed my bags and moved
to the Holiday Inn Express around the corner. I set a few rules. The headset can come off to
eat and go to the bathroom. Yes, I attempted to sleep with it on. I checked my phone only if it was urgent. I had notifications
coming into the headset. It's about to be 6 PM, which is the start of
my metaverse journey.

I've got two headsets in
case of technical issues. And lots of apps and
other things preloaded for different parts of the day and night. What could go wrong? – [Narrator] Welcome to Beat Saber. Now, cut the cubes in the arrow direction and match the color. That was too soon. Wait for the beat, wrong direction. Wrong direction. – She's very mean. I started with games like Beat Saber since right now they're
the most popular use of VR. And while many games allow
you to play with others, I had no real friends to play
Beat Saber with that evening. So I decided to go elsewhere for some social interaction. AltspaceVR, an app that
allows you to hang out with other avatars in virtual venues.

Okay, I'm gonna customize my avatar for a night out. I guess in the metaverse
I could have short hair. I wasn't exactly prepared
for what would happen next. I guess I'll go to this campfire hub. Hello? As soon as I was in the public area, I started hearing people
talk and chat and. (woman coughing) Apparently there are no
masks in the metaverse. I was dropped into an area with lots of trippy little
LEGO-looking people, and I attempted to interview them. – [Woman] Oh, a journalist are you? – I wanna learn what you guys do in here. – [Man] Pretty much
everything that you would do in the real world. – I knew I had really made friends forever when they asked me to go to a comedy club by clicking on this portal thing. The club was so obviously fake but my presence in it and the presence of all these other
people felt really real. Do you guys have wine? – Yeah, of course, wine,
everything you want. – I even felt awkward when the comedian hit on my avatar. – You were the girl I was
trying to find out your name but I can't 'cause I'm
trying to be subtle.

– I spent a good amount
of time in Altspace and came away thinking it's
like an AOL chatroom evolved, which I'm not sure is
a good or a bad thing. I need to relax for a moment. (clock ticking) The meditation app is launched. Okay. – [Narrator] Kindness starts with you. I highly recommend meditation apps like Guided Meditation or Trip. It's oddly relaxing and peaceful. And I could lie to you
and tell you I slept with the headset on the whole night but we have this proof. (playful music) (alarm beeping) I woke up feeling refreshed. I pulled up some morning
reading in my web browser. Got Google News over here, The Wall Street Journal website over here. And Instagram over here on the right. And had breakfast at
the foot of Machu Picchu with a llama in the
National Geographic app. It's funny, this animal
has legs in the metaverse. Why do animals get four
legs in the metaverse and we get zero? And then I had a pretty
fun and intense workout. – Welcome to Supernatural. Be ready for your first Flow workout. – There are various types of workouts you can do in Supernatural, which involve everything from doing lunges to using controllers to hit targets.

pexels photo 267363

Working out in the metaverse is great. I got so into it, I actually lost track of time. I have a meeting in Spatial in one minute. I need to change, crap. Yes, meeting in the metaverse are a thing. Hi, Erin, I'm Joanna. Nice to meet you. – Hi, thanks for coming. – The idea is that instead of Zoom, you chat as avatars. My first meeting was in
an app called Spatial. And, of course, it required
a different avatar. Yes, that's my actual
face on a floating torso. I met up with the co-founder of Spatial, Anand Agarawala, in an NFT art gallery with works from Ken Kelleher,
AKA Anchorball on display. And this is a great stop because it turns out I'm
in an NFT art gallery, which sounds like the metaverse to me.

– Heck yeah, I mean, you
can't get more metaverse-y than a pixelated dog or
these crazy heads and stuff or these beautiful sculptures. – We also went to a campfire where I asked him about the lack of legs. – The headset tracks
your head and your hands and so we can make it do realistic stuff. What are my legs supposed to do? We can't actually detect
the signal from your legs. Legs are coming, coming soon. – I quickly had to jump from that meeting to another meeting as another avatar in Horizon Workrooms, an app made by Meta,
formerly known as Facebook. Oh I see, so it's kind of like
you've gotta really put it on the board.

You can even invite
people from the real verse who happen to be on their webcams. But again, there was this real feeling of presence in the room. I felt like I was actually sitting across from my editor, Wilson, in this meeting. – It's like in Ghostbusters, I'm a full-torso apparition. You don't need legs. Oh no, Joanna's looking under the table. That's so scary. – Yes, meeting metaverse is fun if you don't do it for four hours on end. That was so much time in avatar meetings. My eyes hurt and my head hurts. So what did I learn from this adventure other than I'd never
recommend you do this? Well, a few things. It's clear why big tech companies are fighting over this. There's an opportunity to build the underlying platform here.

One avatar with legs living across games, workout apps, meetings and more. Meta's Meaghan Fitzgerald told me as much. – And the metaverse is not
gonna be built by one company. That there are other
companies, organizations, creators that maybe will use our avatars and allow people to move
from one place to another while still feeling like themselves. – Then there's the privacy
tools and moderation. It's gonna be insane judging from my brief comedy club experience.

And then headsets will need to be smaller and more comfortable and
run for longer on a charge. Thank you guys, my headset's
gonna die in five minutes. So yes, it's certainly the
early days of the metaverse. But lock yourself in a room like this and you can really see the potential..

As found on YouTube

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