I threw a holiday party at Horizon Worlds. It didn’t go well
Reasonable people could argue whether a social VR application is sufficiently different in meaning, such as A video game to earn a brand new nickname. How reasonable people can not disagree is that the majority of people simply don’t have regular access to VR yet.
So, not finding enough VR headsets in my group of friends, I turned to a demographic that likely has a much higher percentage of early adopters: the nerds working at WIRED.
Scary corporate holiday party
If the test was to spend time with my loved ones on vacation in VR, the result was simple: I failed. Cut and dry. But I still wanted to try the technology, so I asked a few colleagues if they’d like to join me for an event everyone’s been looking forward to: a corporate holiday party with your coworkers and almost not enough alcohol.
In the end, I had a total of four volunteers. Two—Adrienne and Parker—have their own headsets and can participate at home. One was at the WIRED office and another joined after seeing her try to hang out with us. However, the word “trying” in that sentence tells a bit about how the process works.
For starters, organizing an event using Horizon Worlds is not intuitive at all. I spent several hours trying to figure out how to add people to a group—without having to add colleagues as friends on my personal Facebook account. Finally, I found a little-known tool that allows you to create a shareable link, like Zoom, but it’s not very intuitive. We all also have to go through a lengthy process that includes updating apps, restarting the headset, and creating a new profile, depending on how recently we’ve touched our devices.
Even after creating our group, one of my colleagues was having trouble joining our voice chat. And that means they can never make it work. Most of us can chat and hang out in cyberspace together, but one is stuck mimicking and texting us in Slack from time to time. Every office party has someone who just stands there and doesn’t say much, but that’s usually their choice.
“I really want this to work! And I have a huge only child guilt triggered because I can’t join in on the fun,” she told me later in Slack.
For who maybe join, however, the app is surprisingly fun. As everyone, myself included, has pointed out, virtual social apps are nothing new. To make up for this, Meta has created some scenes that players can roam in and some physical toys and games that they can play with.
In the default area, Adrienne found a basketball court, where she tricked us into believing she had great free-throw using auto aim. In a video game scene, I found a mole-style game to be enjoyable for a minute. Parker, the band’s popular musician, is drawn to a spot on stage where you can pick (but don’t actually play) a set of virtual instruments.
Advanced game… Since 2006
However, the most interesting thing for me is a virtual air hockey table. Adrienne and I stood at opposite ends, grabbing our mallets and slamming the ball back and forth. Now, when I was in a real video game, I would be sucked into air hockey like a moth rushing into a lamp, so I was looking forward to dropping off. And me too. The game will lag if the ball starts moving too fast. But I still get the impression that I’m playing a game like this with someone thousands of miles away.
This is the kind of thing that I can really see potential in the future. Online gaming is nothing new, but for the most part it is limited to things you can play with a keyboard or controller. But with less lag and more fine-grained input controls, physics-based video games can be realistic in the long run. So to talk.