Inside the cozy but scary world of VR bedroom
Feeling safe is important to relax and sleep, even when you’re alone in your own bed at home.
One day, I walked into my bedroom and immediately heard a child’s voice in my ear. The kid, whose avatar is a robot, tried to strike up a conversation with me and a medieval knight without success. (My avatar is a stick of butter with a tiny top hat, why not?) Exasperated, the robot flew to a corner where about seven avatars were lying peacefully side by side, apparently. like sleeping. Then the child’s voice taunted them: “I will kill you. I really will kill you.
It’s well known that the metaverse is teeming with underage users, and my journey through the bedrooms has confirmed that children are disturbingly frequent in these adult spaces. Another bedroom I visited was filled with childish voices speaking Spanish and French. I took the elevator up to a “roof,” where I found a red-lit corner with plush, plush couches. “Hi, I like your avi [avatar],” said a child’s voice behind me. I turned around to find another cyborg avatar talking to what looked like a scarecrow. “I like yours too,” said a man’s voice. “Want to cuddle?” The child drifted away and I followed suit, not worried.
Schwerd told me he had also seen children in the bedroom. “You’re definitely going to make the underage people a nuisance,” he said. But he stressed that most bedrooms are quiet and “respectful.”
As I wander around, I mostly find this to be true. Some of the bedrooms I happened to walk into were empty and silent. Others have avatars nestled together, fast asleep. Still others had groups of avatars huddled together, awake but quiet, some whispering, others just relaxing. I often feel the need to mutter “Sorry” and tiptoe, forgetting that since I am a stick of butter in a room full of avatars, few will hear me or care.
I can’t sleep in VR. I was extremely attentive to my surroundings and found the headset on my face uncomfortable. But while I found some of the rooms disturbing, I discovered quiet and peaceful bedrooms, places to simply sit and stay. In the real world, I struggle to find quiet places to relax, and if nothing else, virtual bedrooms give me the space and time to lie back and gaze at the stars.