…and what happened to the RyanSchultz.com blog! April and May were highly atypical months for the RyanSchultz.com blog, as I had to field any number of competing tasks, events, and priorities in the past two months (among them, a VR lab project proposal and, sadly, a family funeral).
By the time the final week of May rolled around, I was feeling so burned out that I barely touched my computer during a blessed week of vacation-at-home! But it’s June 1st now, and it’s time for me to pull my socks up and start blogging again.
Today, we gathered to grieve the loss of a family member.
The person who died was a quiet, private man who loved his wife and family very much, and to honour and respect that privacy I will not be sharing any personal information like his name, how he lived his life, and how he died. His illness and subsequent death were unexpected, and shockingly quick, and my extended family is still reeling, still trying to make sense of what happened. He will be greatly missed.
Over thirty people came to the graveside service, and I remarked to my nephew that it was the largest crowd of people I had been part of since before the pandemic struck (he agreed). While we chatted in small groups after the service, an irate Canada goose who had had the misfortune to choose to build her nest and lay her eggs in a nearby empty planter glared at us for daring to intrude upon her personal space. (Canada geese are ornery creatures at the best of times, but especially during nesting season, and so we tried our best to keep our distance.)
After the graveside service, I headed over to another part of the cemetery, where my father had been buried. He, like the man who we remembered today, also passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving a gaping hole in a grieving family. I was only 21 at the time, and it hit like a body blow. I was in shock for quite some time afterwards, and it took a long time for me to pick up the pieces.
Now, at 58, I just stood there in respectful silence, alone with my memories, listening to the birds in the cool prairie air, the overcast skies threatening rain to wash away the last patches of winter snow.
It’s been an exceptionally emotional day, and I’m grieving, and I’m exhausted. I’m not sure when things are going to get back to normal, or even what “normal” is anymore, so I’m going to be continuing my extended break from reporting on “news and views on social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse”, as the tagline for my blog states.
HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: The RyanSchultz.com blog will be on an indefinite hiatus, as I am working on a brand new project: writing up a proposal for a VR lab for my university library system! More details here. I’ll be back as soon as I can, folks!
Yesterday, April 1st, was April Fools Day, when people often pull pranks on each other. I wanted to share with you two such pranks, one by Tom Ffiske, and the other by Tony Vitillo (a.k.a. SkarredGhost). Both are active commentators on the evolving metaverse marketplace and, like me, they sometimes poke fun at some of its absurdities!
Party like it’s 2099 with the world’s largest metaverse conference, with over twenty people confirmed to attend. Get ready to go through an overly complicated sign-up process with zero guidance, and enter the one and only metaverse (apart from Second Life decades ago). All transactions use MetaCoin, a cryptocurrency running on a decentralised network that can be yours for the low price of $0.99 (then $3,000 after gas fees). Are you ready to join the party?
This parody of the worst of the blockchain metaverse conference events offers the most delicious snark:
Easy to access: Simply buy a VR headset during a semiconductor crisis, and you can party with your friends while jigging in your tiny flat.
Introducing MetaCoin: Escape the banks! All transactions will use MetaCoin, a cryptocurrency that truly democractizes access to finance. Only 70% is owned by the founder.
Enter the metaverse: We have built a metaverse thatrepresenta the future, only there is zero interoperability and we will stop updating it after the weekend.
Among the (fictitious) guest speakers:
Richard Ryder: Sponsoring the event and will send you a follow-up email next week. And the week after.
Sarah Sarahbard: Launched a failed crypto project last month, and is looking to pump up its value before selling her stake.
Derrick Dickard: A futurologist who read about the metaverse on Forbes, and will pretend to be an expert until next year,
Savage, but accurate!
Tony issued a timely commentary on the trend of Horizon Worlds, Rec Room. AltspaceVR, and other metaverse platforms where the avatars lack the lower half of their body, tweeting:
Nevermet is a new iOS mobile app by California-based Cheerio, which can best be described as Tinder meets VRChat. The app, which launched on Valentine’s Day, had over 2,000 people sign up on the first day!
According to their official press release:
As now the majority of new couples are meeting online, a new and uncommon app comes to the fore. Enter Nevermet. It’s the latest kind of “limitless” experience making love connections more accessible for people through avatars and VR. The brainchild of co-founders Cam Mullen and Solaris Nite, Nevermet offers to redefine how avatars connect to form meaningful relationships. Mullen and Nite previously launched three social VR apps together, each of which has tens of thousands of users on the Oculus App Store.
The problem is, it’s hard to find a VRBF or a VRGF (ahem, a “virtual reality boyfriend / girlfriend”). Walking up to an avatar in a digital world, just like in the real world, is nerve wracking! It’s even tougher when one doesn’t know the gender or age of the other person, if they’re single, or if there’s anything in common. As Tinder made it easier for people looking for a relationship to find each other in the real world, Nevermet wants to make it easier in VR and the Metaverse. Nevermet is focused on enabling romantic relationships in VR, but users who are looking to make friends are also welcomed.
So how does it work? It’s just like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, or Grindr, but the key difference is instead of posting content of yourself, users post content of their avatar — no human faces allowed. A profile (which must be approved by the moderation team), can only showcase an avatar. After creating a profile and setting the age and gender filters, users swipe on potential love interests. If there’s a match, they can then text to coordinate a meet up for a VR Date. One thing’s for sure: Nevermet isn’t a dating app based on natural looks. Appearance is off the table, and avatar movements, style and the sound of one’s voice takes the floor.
Of course, dating and matchmaking in social VR and virtual worlds is not a new concept. For example, I personally know of at least five couples who met because of the social VR platform Sansar! And Bernhard Drax (a.k.a. Draxtor Despres in Second Life) has a whole series on YouTube called Love Made in Second Life, where he profiles couples who first met in SL and partnered up in real life! And Joe Hunting recently premiered his feature-length documentary We Met in Virtual Reality at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, featuring two romantic couples in VRChat. I’m sure that many other metaverse platforms have similar stories. So it seems a natural next step to have an app like Nevermet, for avatars to meet new friends or potential dates.
While the starting target community for Nevermet is VRChat, there are many users who overlap with other platforms, such as IMVU. While the Nevermet app is for iOS devices only now, Cam Mullen tells me that there are future plans to expand to Android mobile devices.