Until not long ago, flirting on the Internet or dating people you had met online was a fairly taboo subject. Nothing good could happen if you met someone you had met in a chat, in a forum or in an online video game. The thing changed to the point where the Internet has become almost the only way to look for a relationship. And here comes, of course, the metaverse. If social networks or video calls have already shown more than enough potential to form couples —and to break them, everything is said—, what can the metaverse offer us in this field right now?
This is how dating apps are in the metaverse
It is almost obvious that one of the functions of the metaverse is to be able to meet other people , either with the intention of seeking friendship or even going further. Long before we went crazy with the term ‘metaverse‘, there were inventions like Habbo Hotel or Second Life that already fulfilled the function of what Zuckerberg is looking for, only with a lower level of realism and a much less interesting immersion.
But back to the current metaverse. Is it possible or not to have an appointment there? VICE contributor Ross Buchanan has made it his mission to try and document it for all of us. Armed with an Oculus Quest 2 and with the prior permission of his wife, he has tried some of the most advanced dating apps currently on the scene. And, the result cannot be said to have been negative, but what is clear is that there is a lot of work left in this sector so that it can be taken seriously as a dating platform.
Ross’s first stop on his quest for a virtual date was Planet Theta . The app is currently in a closed beta system, but get an invite after talking to the CEO. Planet Theta has four areas: the one-minute micro date, the coffee date, the social areas, and the virtual apartments . The system looks for three people related to your data (age, sexual orientation…) and you have only one minute to decide if you want a longer date or if it is better to go to another person. If you take the step, you advance to the virtual coffee date, which lasts 5 minutes. It is understood that the next step would be to progress to the virtual apartment, but Ross had no luck on this first attempt, so he tried an alternative.
The second attempt would be in VRChat, which has existed since 2014 and made the leap to the metaverse . It is an open world game that allows you to meet people of all kinds. On this occasion, Ross found himself in a situation similar to what you might see in the rough neighborhood of San Junipero, so he understood that he was not going to find his virtual better half in such a perverse place.
Another alternative to Planet Theta and VRChat is AltSpaceVR, Microsoft‘s take on the metaverse . In this case, the application is not exclusively for dating, but a platform for live events where some people can connect if the opportunity arises. It was here that Ross managed to attract the attention of a beautiful lady with a mustache who was dressed exactly like him in the game. They played basketball, they laughed for a while, they parted ways and he kept almost no information about her. As if they had met at Burning Man, come on. After this, Ross understood everything he needed to know to accomplish his goal.
How did the experiment end?
Finally, our protagonist achieved his goal by returning to VRChat and blending in with the fauna that moves there. There he achieved his long-awaited kiss and caresses from a man dressed as a knight —Ross , for his part, does it with a marsupial skin—.
The bottom line to all of this is that the dating world in the metaverse is still too green. The applications are advancing, and, in fact, a version of Tinder for virtual reality is expected. But today, the ecosystem is limited by the few users who have a VR headset, who are almost owners of the virtual terrain and who turn the experience into a meme rather than something serious. Still, Ross Buchanan acknowledges that the experience is quite real . In his article, he even talks to some of those responsible for these platforms about how they are working to avoid harassment, the invasion of privacy or even avoid something as serious as feeling violated from virtual reality.