Dating in VR, they explain, can facilitate experiences that are for reasons of location, finances, and the laws of space and time, impossible in the real world. Mullen tells me about “sitting on a US spaceship and looking at the blue Earth with white clouds and the black stars behind it, talking to this one girl from rural Mississippi for about an hour and hearing all about her life.” The Nevermet founders emphasize that their app is less superficial than the competition and has the potential to enable people who feel shut out of traditional dating, due to anything from cultural circumstances or social anxiety, to form connections. “The people who are most engaged in these metaverse dating communities feel most comfortable as their best self in this form,” Mullen says.
I can’t help but feel as if dating while strapped into a VR headset is a touch dystopian, especially in the midst of a real-world loneliness epidemic and declining birth rates, so I raise the idea that this will make it worse. “It has the opportunity to have the opposite effect,” Nite says, “which is they build confidence through lower-stakes dating, maybe less pressure, in the metaverse.” But – you’re thinking it too – can you have sex in VR? Sort of. “There’s something called ERP, which stands for erotic role play,” Mullen explains. “What people experience is something called phantom touch.”
Preorder your NFT gravestone and be remembered like a pharaoh when you die
Since the dawn of human history, we have memorialised our dead: in pyramids and graveyards and everything in between. Now, the team at Remember is dreaming up how we’ll mourn each other in the digital future with the first commemorative metaverse. Interested parties can purchase one of its NFT gravestones, which take the form of smooth, abstract sculptures randomly generated from one of 30 base shapes. Each stone will set you back 0.125 ether (ETH), or around £300. “We wanted to be happy and memorable, so we tried to focus the design not to be a traditional tombstone, but something brand new,” Jake Ma, the company’s blockchain and full stack developer, tells me on a Zoom call from Seoul, where Remember is based.
Stephen Han, head of product and business development, was first struck with the idea for Remember when his grandmother died from COVID-19 and he was unable to attend her funeral. “There was nothing much left for me to remember her, other than a few photos that I kept,” he says. Soon, the company hopes to even create 3D hologram renderings of the deceased, based on photos, that can live on in virtual memorial halls. “In the past, there were Egyptian pyramids – all these huge figures have built memory space before, but for people like me there’s not enough land,” Han says.
“But nowadays, it is possible.” Remember even have a terra firma casket partner, Titan Casket, and now they’re kicking around ideas of how they can work together. “Maybe if someone buys a coffin there,” Han suggests, “we can provide an NFT.”
Sexy new moves to bust out on the dance floor – get down with motion-captured NFTs
Brady Keehn, aka Panther Modern, aka the dancing king of the metaverse, looks more indie musician than tech bro: a choppy blond haircut, black tank top, delicate silver earring dangling from one ear. That’s probably because he is one, as the frontman of the post-punk electronic band Sextile. “I’ve always been a DIY artist my entire life, just hacking it together,” he says. Now, he’s applying that same ethos to Heat, a DAO – or decentralised autonomous organization – that Keehn describes as “Bandcamp for dancers.” Users will be able to upload their specific dances to the platform and sell them as NFTs, which other users can then purchase and use to get their avatars moving in various metaverses. “We are building a platform for dancers and movers,” he explains. “Traditionally, it’s been hard to monetize movement. All this tech is being built for music, all this tech is being built for visual art, all this tech is being built for everything else, but where is movement in all of this?”