Platforms for People #10

Image by David Denton

Social VR Platforms . . . . . . People . . . . . . Companies . . . . . . Society

Guest Article:

Learning a Fifth Platform, and a Sixth, and a Seventh

November 17, 2021

In a previous issue, Codey Baker introduced us to AltspaceVR, Help Club, Engage, and Rec Room, which he visited one after another in one day — and was just getting warmed up:

2:30pm Horizon Worlds

I spawned in and noticed a group of people talking and being shy I avoided them and threw a boomerang at a floating target which was fun for about a minute.

The world felt expansive, colorful, and was full of little things to do like throw paper airplanes through hoops. It encouraged me to try something hard — just start talking to people I don’t know.

It worked! Some of the people were actually Facebook moderators. They welcomed me and showed me how things work. I talked with 4–5 people and everyone was having a good time.

3:00pm VRChat

It’s been two years. I wondered what has changed.

Nothing lol

VRChat is still very much the psychedelic experience it always has been. It’s also one of the most creative VR communities I have been a part of.

Let’s start with the avatars: Within an hour I saw more than a 100 unique looks, many of which were hand made by the people they represented.

— In a bar floating in space I was surrounded by three dancing females with Shrek heads playing I Need a Hero.

— There was a naked blobby dude who jiggled as he walked and liked to throw out insults and demanded you insult him in return.

— There were two tiny little lama brothers almost exclusively speaking in curse words.

— And a frog who talked really fast and ended all his sentences with “Bruh!?!

— All this while in the background there were naked anime girls posing for each other in a mirror.

I parked next to a cat throwing pancakes who activated some kind of hypnotize feature which made me feel like I was in the twilight zone opening montage. This is who I decided to talk to.

My new friend described VRChat as the adult version of Rec Room on drugs. Lots of people talking, and funny conversations to eaves drop but if you are easily offended it’s definitely a platform to scratch off the list.

Many of the avatars are mostly naked; many people are role playing the rather crass and rude versions of themselves. If you can embrace the craziness it’s a fun and rewarding experience like being Alice in Wonderland.

4:00pm Wander

There are no avatars in Wander and no walking around. A host leads people through locations and teleports them to different parts of the world, actually 360 degree images uploaded to Google Streetview.

I joined a group headed for Australia, which immediately switched its itinerary to a museum that is actually in my home town. My mind was blown. It was preposterous for this to happen. Needless to say I gave part of the tour.

It became a museum tour — a footballer gallery in Spain and a ramen noodle museum in Japan. I laughed out loud and had high level fun with three new friends I will probably never see again.

5:00pm Altspace

You know in one minute that this place is more mature. People tend to be older. Events are typically moderated and trolls don’t last long.

There are events to attend. You don’t have to go hang out and make conversation. You can go to Altspace to watch talk shows, listen to presentations, or take classes.

It also buzzes with world building activity. That’s why I dropped in, to help out a friend who was stuck in their project.

7:00pm Help Club

I had been in five entirely different corners of the newly emerging Metaverse since I registered at the Club that afternoon. Five different ways of selecting, holding, moving (or not moving). Five entirely different social situations. Some were harder to deal with than others but none of them was a waste of my time.

Now here I was, back where I started, finally joining the circle now sharing the week’s challenges and successes. I heard about what people are struggling with, in a gentle environment with a supportive moderator.

The idea was for people to talk about what they don’t usually get a lot of opportunities to talk about anywhere. It’s not therapy, just people being kind to real people, the way you imagine it could be. With a mega-dose of creative chaos in my recent experience, this mellow circle was the perfect punctuation mark.

A lot to work out still, like getting a few mic hogs to move on. There were about 10 of us in a circle and in the hour’s time we almost didn’t get all the way around and my check in was only about 1 min. I think with time it will polish up and if you are looking for a place to get some support while setting some personal growth objectives or going through something difficult this might be a great thing to check out.

9:00pm Home

I am not wearing a headset but I still feel all the worlds I visited as I try to write about it now. Too close for sweeping statements about the Metaverse. Close enough to know these were real human experiences.

Do I Need to Care about NFTs?

November 17, 2021

That’s a, “No, but …”

Spatial, on the other hand, recently started caring big-time.

Why?

Spatial was founded by technologist/designer/entrepreneur Anand Agarawala and Jinha Lee in 2016 as an enterprise meeting platform, quick and easy. Simple spaces are available in VR, in a desktop browser, and on mobile to talk and share media.

It’s unique proposition was ease of access and learning. Lots of companies make that claim and I haven’t investigated all of them. It took me less than five minutes to download Spatial in VR and launch a meeting there that I easily joined on my laptop and my phone. That’s impressive.

Getting started is free, with several pricing tiers for companies — which means Spatial has to have some kind of sales force actively seeking customers.

Meanwhile, someone else found them. Artists.

Artists figured out the free and easy pre-set Gallery world was all they needed to display their Art and sell it as an NFT. [Mandatory explanation: NFT=Non-Fungible Token, referring to documentation on the blockchain of the ownership of an asset]

NFT Galleries grew from the ground up and were not in Spatial’s initial game plan. They are now.

I recently visited the Sabet NFT Gallery on Spatial.

Sabet Gallery, screenshot from browser

I visited it first on my laptop, which was a lot like anything online, except it has depth. I could see myself as an avatar in the Gallery, as the image above shows, and I could move around easily with a few keyboard keys to look at everything. Many of the images could be downloaded for free.

download from Sabet Gallery

In VR, it was easy to use the Search to find ‘Sabet Gallery’ again.

Same place, only I was in it — along with two other avatars.

I asked them about buying NFTs when I couldn’t see how to do it there in the Gallery, but they had no idea. Oh well, at least we talked.

My intention is to create, display, and sell an NFT.

I see how NFTs can be imported into Spatial and I have one ready to upload that I created in Mirror, an encrypted publishing platform. I will write a step-by-step guide as soon as I successfully connect my digital wallet into the loop.

If you would like to get started and follow along, Coinbase is where many people, including me, get their first wallet.

/Platforms for People #10 — previous issue, Platforms for People #9

If you enjoyed this issue, please Follow us as we expand our coverage of the human and social side of VR and all spatial media.

The Social VR Platforms, Companies, People, and Society tabs at the top of the article are linked to our growing base of very brief, right-to-the-point pieces about social aspects of the Metaverse.

Platforms for People is produced by Tom Nickel. I welcome contributions.

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Tom Nickel

Tom Nickel

Learning Technologist focusing on VR, Video, and Mortality … producer of Less Than One Minute and 360 degree videos