My Family Is Trapped in the Metaverse
Virtual reality isn’t great, but it’s a lot better than dealing with everything else out there.
by Adrienne So
ON A WHIM, I recently started rewatching Ready Player One, the Steven Spielberg adaptation of Ernest Cline’s seminal novel about a future in which virtual reality is the real world. In the opening scene, protagonist Wade Watts clambers around a ramshackle trailer park before placing a headset on his face. Everyone has largely abandoned the decrepit, rundown reality for the Oasis—a virtual world of limitless possibilities, where everyone can do, be, or look like pretty much anything they want.
If you’d asked me if we were close to Ready Player One a year ago, I would’ve snorted and listed any of the objections my more skeptical colleagues have noted. However, on a recent Saturday afternoon, my husband put on the Meta Quest 2 VR headset to play Puzzling Places, a 3D puzzling game, while our children played with their stuffed animals and I sorted laundry.
After lunch, my 6-year-old daughter was allowed to spend a half-hour in Google’s Tilt Brush, a 3D drawing app where she created a frosty winter scene, complete with falling snow and snowmen named Lisa and Tom. My 4-year-old watched, enraptured, as the headset cast to the screen. After dinner, I caught my husband putting the headset on again. I told him to charge it when he was done because I was going to try a few new games with my coworker in an hour.