The Virtual World is growing up, deciding what it wants to be, and, like a famous kid in the spotlight, earning enemies, like Mathew McConaughey.
McConaughey, who ridiculed VR fans in a recent Superbowl commercial for Salesforce, followed up on his criticism this week in an interview with Fox News, of all things.
“If reality is not enough for you to turn you on,” McConaughey gripes, “and you seek the virtual in life, and you seek extra credit … look, that’s why people go to drugs. That’s why people go to pornography online. The reality’s not enough.”
Spoken like a guy who has no idea what he is talking about.
VR is just a new kind of reality, a place to visit with old friends and make new ones, to dance in amazing nightclubs, to hike through towering mountains, to bicycle through Paris and visit countries that you’d never see otherwise, and that might not even exist.
VR has its dangers, and it could all go bad.
But don’t listen to critiques in a “Salesforce” Superbowl ad. VR is nothing like drugs.
Anyone who’s spent an hour playing Beat Saber can tell you it’s better for you physically than, say, football. It’s better for you psychologically than sitting in front of a computer screen all day, staring at an online marketing app like Salesforce. And it’s certainly better for the cohesion of the human race than Fox News!
Without further ado, here are some of the coolest things going on in VR this week.
Where to Dance
Friday February 25, 5:45 pm EST, AltspaceVR, free
Out in the real world, if you want to open a nightclub, you rent the space, work on the design, open up your hot-spot, and if it has some buzz, you wind up living off the bar tab for a few months or years.
But in VR, you might feel inclined to design a new club every few weeks, along with a new world to house it in.
Such is the case with the MOMA raves, which unveiled a beautiful, one-night-only Tokyo club a few months ago, and which now presents Crusöe, one night at an open-air island dance club.
Crusöe promises two dance floors with different music in each location, along with some quiet places on the island where people can talk, including a secluded campfire, from worldbuilder Mikael Zacke Zachrisson. Organizer Manon Smits also tells us that Crusöe will contain “some hidden surprises, because some people are fond of that.”
If it’s anything like past MOMA raves, which were beautiful and lively creations, Crusöe will be a must-see.
This Week’s Hangout
Always Open, in the Premium Bowling App, $15.95
This beautifully recreated period bowling alley is really a great place to meet up with old friends, no matter where they live now, or to make new ones.
The bowling is as close to real life as you can get in virtual reality, you really feel like you’re bowling, and the ambience is perfect.
For just under sixteen dollars, you can bowl again and again and again. You don’t have to pay for parking, you don’t have to rent bowling shoes or wait for a lane, and your friend from Holland doesn’t need to risk Covid to fly out and visit you. A great night out.
Restaurant of the Week
Always Open, in vTimeXR, free
An open air Chinese dive, in the heart of some sort of overgrown, bustling metropolis, which serves roasted chicken that seems disconcertingly fresh, judging from the live chickens staring up nervously from their cages. A bit of drizzle threatens, but you don’t care, it’s all part of the charm. How long will this place hang on? When will the gentrification of that looming city wipe it out?
As we’ve noted before, in vTimeXR, you can make plans to meet old friends, but you may also make new friends. If you’re looking for a date to bring to the MOMA rave, you might find one here! The Chinatown Restaurant is a great place with a great vibe, the perfect seedy ambience to inspire lively conversation, with new friends or old.
What to Watch!
NightMara Episode 1
VR Animation Player, free
Virtual Reality entertainment is full of possibilities, yet no one has yet mastered the new form the way the creators of NightMara have.
We’re used to 3D movies, even the relatively spectacular wonders of IMAX 3D, but traditional 3D entertainment does not really differ much from 2D: in each format, the audience sits in their seats, and the action takes place on a screen, yards away. The random object may approach your face, but you are never in the middle of the action. The producers of 3D movies know that one day home audiences will view their product on a 2D television set. The formats are not so wildly divergent.
NightMara changes all that.
NightMara is the story of a tough 11-year-old girl who has the power to visit the dreams of her small-town neighbors, a skill that comes in handy when someone or something starts attacking the town’s residents inside their dreams.
You can watch NightMara from your armchair the way you would any other television show; writer/director Gianpaolo Gonzalez‘s swirling camera work, quick cutting, set design and 3D effects will be plenty engaging no matter your vantage point.
But you can also get up from your armchair and walk around the incredible world that Gonzalez has designed. When the characters watch TV, you can sit beside them and watch along, or, if you choose, you can stand up and walk through the screen and explore the show-within-a-show. Go ahead and take a stroll down Gonzalez’s neon-lit, rainy-night street. This is animation like you’ve never experienced it before.
Who is NightMara for? This gave me a little pause. There is a certain level of profanity and cheerful gore, and the story is Freddy-Kruegerish, as the title suggests, which might mean that it’s not for tots. But the main character is an 11-year-old girl, so is it for adults?
Still, the gore, so far, is limited to dreams, the horror is, of course, cartoonish, and the profanity is nothing a kid hasn’t heard before and, probably, said many times.
So it’s OK for kids with open-minded parents. And any adult with even a passing interest in animation or tech will be astonished. So maybe NightMara is for everyone.
Party of the Week
Wednesday, February 23, 3:30 pm EST, AltspaceVR, free
We have written in the past about the cheerful and beautiful Pagodascope parties, which brighten our lives biweekly. Today’s party will feature “a Hex Reactive floor crafted by Gold with a little GoogleHz inspiration,” and plenty of dancing.
In future columns: More reviews of VR TV animation. The sexiest dance club in the Metaverse, and more parties, including the latest Bratwurst Meets the World! And a return visit to a growing Multiverse.
Audere Magazine regularly publishes articles about technology and VR. Read more here.
Image design by Steven S. Drachman is not a picture of the MOMA rave. Model: Kalyee Srithnam.