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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Honey, I Brought the Kids Into Virtual Reality

When the real world's a mess, the metaverse that Facebook (er, Meta) is pitching might seem like a welcome refuge. Just strap on a headset and play some VR games in a sprawling digital realm. Fun for the whole family! At least that’s what WIRED senior associate editor Adrienne So has been turning to lately to keep her small kids occupied.

But it's not all virtual puzzles and endless sunshine. Meta has a track record of privacy and ethical lapses in its business practices that may give people pause before they strap on a VR headset. And inevitably, this meta-space might be monetized through ads, the way the current internet is … though some technologists have better ideas than others around what that might look like, WIRED senior writer Gilad Edelman says.

This week on Gadget Lab, Adrienne and Gilad join the podcast to talk about the weird ins and outs of bringing your family into the metaverse and whether anyone will actually want to stay there.

Show Notes

Read Adrienne’s story about how her family is trapped in the metaverse. Read Gilad’s Q&A with the creator of Second Life. Listen to our episode where Gilad and Kate Knibbs talk about NFTs.


Adrienne recommends booking a tattoo appointment ASAP if you’re thinking of getting one, because lots of places are backed up right now. Gilad recommends mashed cauliflower. Lauren recommends the game Beat Saber.


Adrienne So can be found on Twitter @adriennemso. Gilad Edelman is @GiladEdelman. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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Lauren Goode: Gilad.

Gilad Edelman: Lauren.

LG: Gilad, have you ever considered getting a tattoo in the metaverse?

GE: Well, I wanted to get one on my virtual calf but apparently you have no legs in the metaverse.

LG: That's true but you still have a whole upper body that you could ink up if you want to.

GE: Got to keep that clean.

LG: All right. Are we going to spend another episode talking about the metaverse?

GE: Sounds like it.

LG: Yeah, let's do it.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music plays]

LG: Hey everyone, welcome to Gadget Lab. I'm Lauren Goode, I'm a senior writer at WIRED. My usual cohost, Michael Calore, is out this week. Mike, we miss you but there is someone else here to cohost with me. In case our cold open didn't tip you off, regular listeners will know him as the greatest thing since sliced lemons, WIRED senior writer Gilad Edelman. Hi, Gilad.

GE: Hi, guys.

LG: We're also joined this week by WIRED senior associate reviews editor Adrienne So. Hey, Adrienne.

Adrienne So: Hi, guys.

LG: OK. We've been talking about the metaverse a lot on this podcast. We've speculated about what the future of this weird virtual world might be. We've even taken some virtual meetings here and there, but Adrienne has now upped the ante a little bit. Let me just say by the way, that a lot of this conversation is going to revolve around Facebook's virtual reality division, which we used to call Oculus, and now it's Meta. It's the Meta Quest 2, but I might still say Oculus from time to time. Please forgive me if I slip up. OK. This week Adrienne, you wrote a story about how your entire family has been sucked into the metaverse. The headline alone is just enough to make you stop and say what? I guess my first question is, are they OK?

AS: Ha, ha, ha. Is anyone who is the parent of small unvaccinated children OK? And the answer is, I don't know. We're doing our best right now.

LG: Would you like to just pause and scream, because we have opportunity to do this on the show. We can make up the rules.

AS: OK, well … Yeah. We'll just redact it a little bit. Yeah.

GE: Wait, Lauren, you told me specifically not to scream.

LG: That was just for you Gilad, because you are not the parent of small unvaccinated children so shhh for now.

GE: None that we're aware of.

LG: Adrienne, go ahead.

AS: I have two kids and my six year old is vaccinated, and my four year old is unvaccinated. We have been keeping things locked down a little bit over here since they're both back in school and daycare, but the idea of just trotting around to gymnastics lessons and swimming lessons right now with an unvaccinated kid in the middle of the Omicron surge is really nerve wracking. Instead of walking around actual reality, we have been in virtual reality. It turns out you can tighten the band on the Meta Quest 2 headset. You can tighten it small enough to fit on a six year old. If there's any parents out there … Yeah, this is a good parenting tip for you.

LG: If you happen to have a headset available now. As one of our top gear editors, you have just seemingly an endless supply of gear coming into your home. You have all the games and the gizmos and the gadgets and everything. This would seem like the perfect diversion, right. A lot of people are playing video games anyway but you happen to have the Meta Quest 2 headset. What was the point at which you said, "OK, this is the thing I'm going to strap on my kids' head."

AS: I guess, I would like to start off by saying that I got the Quest 2 headset and I got it with you Lauren, originally. I feel like the entry point that a lot of people are seeing for people who are not gamers, is that you're going to want to enter virtual reality through some non-gamery way. They're just like, "OK, we're going to meditate. Or OK, we're going to work out."

The approaches that have been taken thus far to get people into gaming is like, "Oh, we're going to gamify something that you already do."

And that's going to attract someone who is not a traditional gamery type person. And what everybody is forgetting about this, is that games are awesome. People have been working on them for decades, specifically to make them sticky. They're designed to trap and retain people and buy add-ons. And they're specifically designed to suck you in and keep you in there for a long time.

GE: Adrienne, will you … And the adjective you used for this was what? What did you say? Awesome, amazing.

AS: Instead of terrifying. Yeah, yeah. I guess, Puzzling Places was the first time … Was the first game that I tried, and it's this beautiful game. They take 3D models of these enormous buildings, beautiful Swiss cathedrals. And you can manipulate them in virtual reality and break them up into 400 pieces and then painstakingly assemble all these beautiful buildings and then walk through the little tunnels or whatever. And because I was in my house and didn't have very much else to do, I would just put on the headset and just leave it on there. And I know that the big problem, one of the big hurdles with the headset, is that when your eyes don't match up what's happening to your body you get nauseated.

GE: You get seasick.

AS: Yeah, you get seasick. But then I have this big bag of gummy chews that I had from when I was pregnant with my kids. You can just start popping anti nausea gummy chews while you're Puzzling Places for hours

GE: Wait, are you saying you get totally stoned when playing in your VR games?

AS: They're gummy, they're little ginger chews, not … Yeah.

GE: No THC involved.

AS: No, I was not … Oh, although that's a good idea, Gilad.

GE: Yeah.

AS: I'm remembering that actually.

GE: Yeah, talk to me 20 years ago.

AS: Did you have a VR headset 20 years go?

GE: They didn't exist. But as far as the magic combination of THC and video games, the high school age boy's leading at the cutting edge of that.

AS: Well see, this is why it's interesting too, because I'm coming to gaming from a totally different perspective than the vast majority of the other members of our team who have been playing games for decades. And then I fell into it at the start of the pandemic. And at first, we started playing at night after the kids had gone to sleep, but for just in your house all day, it's so easy to just put the headset on like, "I'm just going to puzzle for 30 minutes or something."

And our six year old just kept seeing us sneak off to puzzle for a little bit. And then at some point a couple of weeks ago, she wanted to take a turn. She's not quite coordinated enough to do puzzling, so I looked up a couple of VR things that I thought she be able to do. Rock climbing also didn't work, virtual rock climbing didn't work. But she loves to draw and Google's Tilt Brush is actually a really great … And I was shocked by how quickly she picked it up. And I don't know if two years of virtual learning on and off has contributed to this, but she can put on the headset and manipulate the tools with her left hand. And she can put up rainbows, she can dot falling snowflakes all around her. She has her really great time in Tilt Brush. Now, she has her little bit of dedicated VR time, only half an hour parenting cops, don't come after me. I'm sorry.

LG: And in your story on WIRED.com, you had a really funny comment to share. Rather, it was your husband's comment about how reality is just better. It sounds like maybe not all of the family shared your enthusiasm or Shannon's enthusiasm.

AS: Yeah, that was actually in the first month or so when I had the headset, and I was trying to experience virtual reality as a non gamery type person, with meditation or with virtual conference rooms or something. And just totally finding it unappealing and it …

GE: Wait, Adrienne. Sorry, can you clarify this non gamer type person? Because I think two days ago, you were going on and on to me about this game designer of your favorite multi-player first person shooting game. I definitely walked away from that conversation being like, "OK, Adrienne's a gamer. Good to know."

AS: Oh, my gosh. This is a whole other …

LG: Called out.

AS: I know. This is a whole other podcast, Gilad.

GE: Where I expose your lies.

AS: Oh, my God, about who is or isn't allowed to call themselves a gamer. How many hours per week and what do you have to look like in order to be a gamers TM or whatever? But yeah, I don't …

LG: Adrienne, I think you're a gamer. I think based on my brief experience playing in the metaverse with you, where you and Saira Mueller and I have done things like … Yeah, boxing games and whatnot, and now we're on this chat thread where every other night you and Saira are like, "Want to go play this" insert game title here that I don't recognize, that's basically car crash, shooter, theft, auto, call of war duty game. And I'm like, "You guys have fun." And then you rave about it. I'm like, "I think they're gamers, I think they are gamers TM.".

GE: I think Adrienne's saying she's not a gamer, she just games a lot.

LG: OK. You mentioned that despite the fact that your family is sucked into the metaverse, you have restrictions for your kids in terms of how long they can be in the headset. But I'm wondering if you have a sense of whether the boredom curve with virtual reality is any different from traditional console games or PC games. As kids, we used to play for hours, right. We had the original NES and we had an Atari at one point. Got, I'm dating myself. We had the super Nintendo … Maybe it was the Nintendo 64. I'm trying to remember. We had the Power Pad. We had a bunch of different gaming consoles, and we were really into it. And we'd spend hours doing this but with VR, you've got this thing on your face. And I like to say, when I pull the VR headset off, the Meta Quest 2, I actually feel my forehead breathe a sigh of relief like, "Oh."

It's so nice to stop playing, as fun as it is to play. I'm wondering if you see in your experience now that you're all up there in Portland, but actually living in the metaverse, if there's a moment where you're like, "OK, now we're bored with this."

AS: It is definitely the hardware aspect. But I now know that the battery on the Quest 2 runs about two and a half, three hours. Yeah, that is how long I can keep the headset on, that is my boredom curve. And this is purely a hardware problem because it's extremely uncomfortable, but I think CBD chews might actually help with that too. I'm just going to go medicate myself some more.

LG: Gilad, do you have anything to add to that?

GE: Well, I do want to interject that while it's fun to talk about the metaverse, what we're talking about right now is gaming, right. It's immersive 3D VR gaming. And if that's what we're talking about, then metaverse is just … And Lauren, you've written this, is just new branding on a familiar idea. And the much more radical promise being made about the so-called metaverse, is that you're going to be embodied in digital space, and it can be massively social. And you can do all these kinds of interactions with people, with strangers, with people you know, in virtual worlds that are much more immersive and expansive and persistent then, "OK, I'm going to put this thing on and I'm going to play a game. I'm going to put a puzzle together or whatever."

But I think that where the real action is, is not VR at all, that to the extent that we should be thinking about a company like Meta and what their intentions are for this thing called the metaverse, it's really about AR, because we know that this is a company that makes all its money by monetizing people's attention and showing them ads. And so if I'm thinking just Occam's razor, what's the thing that they're most likely to want to achieve in the shorter medium term, is just having more and more of our attention? If the glasses that you were wearing Adrienne, had your Instagram feed scrolling through them, that would have your attention and there would be more opportunity to show you ads. I actually think that wearable AR stuff is the bigger business play behind this thing called metaverse, as opposed to the near future of VR gaming.

LG: Gilad, let's put a pin in that because you raised some really great points. And I want to ask you about that in the second half of the show. But we're going to take a really quick break. And when we come back, we are going to talk out both privacy in the metaverse, and then what the future of advertising looks like in this crazy new world.


LG: OK, welcome back. We just talked a lot about how Adrienne's family has been sucked into the metaverse, which is to say while they've been cooped up at home during this crazy time, they've been playing a lot of Meta Quest 2 games. And it's been fun and weird and interesting, but porting into a virtual world also presents some new privacy concerns. And it raises a lot of important questions about how ultimately, these experience will be monetized, because there's no real way to separate this whole thing from Facebook, at least for now. You actually have to log into the Meta Quest 2 via a Facebook account for now, even though the company says that they're going to change that. But this is a Facebook product. Gilad, I want to get back to you about what you started to say about advertising in a virtual or augmented world, but first, Adrienne, as you were putting this headset on your kids and giving them this experience of the, 'metaverse', did you have any qualms about having them play in this virtual Facebookian space?

AS: Not particularly, because … Well first, the headset, you can cast the Quest 2 headset to the television, so I can see everything that they're doing. And they're logged in under my account. The actual annoying part is that it's a pretty significant hurdle because my husband refuses to get a Facebook account because of these privacy concerns. We can only play on one headset. We can't play multiplayer VR games because he refuses to get a Facebook account. And now, Facebook knows that I have logged a truly pathological number of hours of Puzzling Places. And it's not just me, there should be a disclaimer. I should be able to put a disclaimer there. My account is shielding my daughter. I haven't really gotten to the point where she has her own social media accounts yet.

LG: And does Facebook actually … Or Meta I should say, actually put any restrictions on who is supposed to be using the Meta Quest 2 headset. Is it 13 and older, that sort of thing?

AS: You can't have a Facebook account if you're under 13, which means you can't own a Quest 2 headset if … You can't own a Quest 2 headset under your own account until you're 13. Woe for all the parents who gifted their 10 and 11 year olds a Quest 2 this year.

GE: An interesting question here is, whether it's AR or VR, let's even stipulate that, this grand vision of the persistent immersive social virtual reality takes shape. Is it going to be something that is within Meta corporation's walled garden, the way that it's existing properties are now?

LG: Gilad, you recently spoke with the creator of Second Life. Some of you listening to this will be like, "What's Second Life?" And others who are a little bit more old school internet folks will be like, "Oh, yeah. Second Life." This is Philip Rosedale. There's a great Q&A with him on WIRED.com, so go check that out. But he talked a little bit about the challenges with making the, 'metaverse more mainstream'. What are these challenges as he identifies them?

GE: Second Life, for those who aren't familiar with, it is a game. Although at the time, Philip and his team resisted it being labeled a game, something that he chuckles about now. But it launched in 2003, so nearly 20 years ago. And it was this very novel idea where you would just go in, like the Sims or something, except there was really nothing gamified about it. It was just a world and you went in with an avatar and you could build stuff and you could buy and sell stuff. And it attracted a small but very loyal following of people who treated the name of the game very literally, and had a life in that world that for whatever reason, was more appealing to them than their, 'real life'. And so Philip has a lot of perspective on what goes into building a virtual world. And after working at Second Life, he founded a spatial audio company, which is what he's been working on most recently. And that is very relevant here. I asked him, what are the barriers to making this work when it comes to a big immersive social VR world.

And he started by naming three things. The first is very technical, non-verbal expressions. It's really hard so far to capture something like nodding at someone or smiling or winking or leaning, body language. And it's extra hard with headsets. It's worse with headsets than with other ways of capturing motion. The second one is what he's been specializing in, which is spatial audio, 3D audio, where if you really want to simulate a social setting … The way Zoom does it, which is what we're using now, is really not good enough because you need crosstalk. You need to be able to hear, "Oh, somebody's talking to somebody else over my right shoulder."

And then the third thing that he mentioned is having a lot of people in the same place. That's a technological limitation so far. Even Meta's flagship Horizon Worlds, he said can't have more than 20 people in one place. And if you want to simulate something like a concert and a college lecture or something like that, you're going to need to find a way to have quite a few more people in the same shared virtual space than is technologically possible now.

LG: OK. These seem like really valid challenges. And Philip's been doing this for a long time so give him credit where credit's due, but this whole idea of, "How many people can we cram into a metaverse space at once?"

All I keep thinking about, particularly as a journalist, is, I don't know, my brain just goes into this OPSEC mode where I'm like, "If we had a bunch of people getting together in your backyard or my apartment or in the office or something, provided there are … "

These days, there are cameras around, there are smart speakers around. It just feels like being in person is inherently more secure and more private for the most part. Whereas when you have 20 people gathering, and I've had this experience in virtual press briefings, putting on Oculus headset … Excuse me, Meta headset. And popping into an app like Arthur VR and meeting with people and standing on this roof deck type environment where we had little virtual cocktails in our weird little virtual hands, literally everything you do is internet connected and has the potential to be recorded, and you're leaving a digital footprint. And that to me is just so wild sometimes.

GE: Yeah and that's why … Getting back to your question of what the business model is going to be for this, given that Meta is a company that makes all its money from selling behaviorally targeted ads, and that is a business model that requires constant surveillance of what you're doing. You can imagine a pretty unpleasant future. And Philip Rosedale is very freaked out about this prospect, which is why he's glad that these technological barriers still exist for now. You can imagine a situation where that business model is imported into virtual reality, or as I suspect, augmented reality, but either way, where it might be hard to imagine now if you're thinking about, "I'm playing a puzzle game."

But if you imagine a much more richly developed world, there's no reason that that world that you're interacting with can't be algorithmically optimized for your engagement while you're in it. In other words, there's no reason to expect that everybody's going to be seeing and interacting with the exact same thing at all times. And so the prospect of tailoring a virtual world to each individual user to keep them more engaged with all the pathologies that we know engagement based algorithm ranking already produces when it's just a social feed, that is a freaky thing to think about.

LG: When you talked to Philip Rosedale about the monetization of the metaverse, did Web 3 come into the conversation at all? What's the distinction there between the metaverse and Web 3, if there is one? And then if you did talk about Web 3, then how does he feel about … Here's another buzzword, everyone take a shot, the blockchain?

GE: We did talk … I'm not sure that the word Web 3 came up, I'd have to check the transcript. But we did talk about how the world that Second Life built, what lessons if any, that might have for the current moment, where there is a lot of overlap between the two buzz words, metaverse and Web 3. Web 3 is a refresher. For listeners, it basically refers to this idea that there will be a … The next phase of the web will be very decentralized because it will be built on blockchain technology. Oh and so …

LG: And it will be in the hands of just a few large companies that basically can control the internet, or top layer experiences of the internet now.

GE: Right, exactly. It's a utopian vision of that, that like all utopian visions, is unlikely to play out in the way that the utopians are describing it. But then once we go down a layer from Web 3, there's all these sub buzzwords, like NFTs, which everyone has heard a lot about by now. And the idea here that … One place of overlap is that NFTs, which are goods or tokens that live on the blockchain and ownership is passed along a blockchain and recorded so that you can make digital goods scarce, people see that as a really appetizing way to make money and create economies in a virtual space.

Second Life is way ahead on this. It's always had an economy within its virtual world, and the difference is that they built this before blockchain existed. And so instead of putting all the things that you might own in your Second Life account on a blockchain, it's just in a publicly accessible database that is managed by Second Life. And this is very nerdy, but it cuts to us one of the many big debates when it comes to the usefulness of blockchain technology, which is the blockchain is a distributed database. That's what a blockchain is. It's a database that instead of being on one server or one computer, it is on a whole shitload of … Can we curse on Gadget Lab?

LG: Sure.

GE: It's on a whole boatload … OK. It's on everybody's computer all the time. And Philip's point was, a lot of the appeal of the blockchain might be just in the transparency part of it. And you don't need a blockchain to achieve that. A centralized database that is public, may actually accomplish a lot of what you need there. All your transactions and ownership and the price of assets in Second Life is kept on this Second Life database. And then the other thing that we talked about was Second Life's approach to goods because he refers to the things you buy and sell as NFTs. But again, they're not technically on the blockchain because this is coming from a pre blockchain world. And so you can buy and sell digital goods within Second Life. And in fact, that's how Second Life makes money, is by taking a commission essentially on these sales. Or that's one of the ways it makes money.

And I pushed him on this because one thing that I'm very skeptical of is … OK, let's say that we're skived out by the idea of surveillance advertising migrating to the metaverse, whatever that looks like. Are we really so sure that it's a much healthier business model for people to be buying and selling a bunch of stuff that doesn't even exist? And what he had to say was, "Look, if you look at this NFT mania that's happening right now, where people are spending thousands of dollars on just utterly trivial collectors' items, just to prove in group status … Oh, I own a Bored Ape." Congratulations. That's obviously economically crazy. But he said, "That doesn't mean that digital goods have no value."

I think the example he gave was you might show up to an in-person meeting wearing designer shoes because you look good. Well, you might want to look good in the very …

LG: In the metaverse.

GE: Yeah. It's no more arbitrary to want to look good in virtual reality. Are digital goods worth as much as physical real life goods? No, you don't have to pay for the physical resources. But does that mean that they're worth nothing? No.

LG: There's a lot more to unpack here just about NFTs alone, I think. And we have talked about this before on earlier episodes of the Gadget Lab. Kate Knibbs came on at one point and joined us to talk about how she sold an NFT. This was a year ago. I feel like we were very ahead of the curve at that point, but I recommend you go through our back catalog if you'd like to listen to that one. And it's probably something we're going to address again in the future.

GE: I believe the title of that episode, which I also cohosted, was NFT WTF.


GE: That seems like something …

LG: WTF are NFTs, I think.

GE: Oh, OK. OK.

LG: But close enough, Gilad. Close enough.

AS: Good one.

LG: OK. We're going to take a quick break and then we're going to come back with our quick recommendations.


LG: Gilad, I have to say, I'm tempted to go to you first just because your recommendations are typically off the wall, but Adrienne is our guest of honor this week. Adrienne, what is your recommendation?

AS: Well, in case you weren't able to tell from my segment, we're all truly going through it right now. And I just decided that this is the time for me to book my fifth tattoo. And to my horror, every single good botanical artist in Portland that does fine black and white line work, very specific demographic which is really prevalent here in this city of tattooed hippie witches, but they're all booked out through March. If you have some things that you need to express by getting inked, I suggest looking up your favorite tattoo artist and getting on their books now, because there is a significant backlog.

GE: Your recommendation is, apply long term thinking to the goal of getting a tattoo, which is something that doesn't happen too often.

AS: I don't know, tattoos are forever, Gilad.

GE: I'm actually blown away to learn that you already have four tattoos because … To the listeners out there, Adrienne has a very wholesome vibe, obviously putting out some mom energy into the world. And I've also just been in your physical presence and not noticed that you were tatted up.

AS: As far as my parents know, I don't have any. Mom, cover- Mom, earmuffs. But yeah, this is part of my brand, Gilad. Adrienne: not a gamer, not tattooed.

LG: It's all a façade.

GE: You're living a lie. You're living a second life, Adrienne.

AS: Good one.

LG: Oh, I bet people will be charging tattoo artists in the metaverse to tat up their virtual avatars.

AS: Oh, that's such a good idea. The lines in the metaverse would probably be shorter than the real ones at this point.

GE: Don't hurt as much.

LG: Gilad, do you have any tattoos?

GE: No, I don't have any tattoos and I never will.

LG: OK, all right.

GE: Lauren, you're supposed to say, "Why mess with perfection?"

GE: Oh, thanks Lauren. Thank you, that's so sweet.

LG: Why mar anything that's already perfect?

GE: OK, OK, OK, we get it.

LG: But Adrienne also, I respect that you are going to get a fifth tattoo at some point. If I can help in any way, let me know. You can come down to San Francisco and get it done. It'd be really fun.

AS: Yay.

LG: All right Gilad, he who does not have any tattoos, I must ask you now, what is your recommendation this week?

GE: It's not off the wall, it's food related. It's basically a recipe. I've been enjoying making mashed cauliflower recently. It sounds like a sad, healthy version of mashed potatoes but it's not. It's a good, healthy version of mashed potatoes because I like cauliflower and it's also quite a bit lighter than mashed potatoes, which can sometimes be pretty heavy. You just chop up your cauliflower, boil it for quite a long time to get a nice and … Not an hour but probably good 25, 30 minutes, I would say. Drain it, mash it up, and then I've actually … The last time I did it, I used the immersion blender to get a really nice, smooth consistency. And then because you're doing cauliflower, I feel more liberated to put in quite a bit of butter. And then I also like to put in a good bit of Greek yogurt, which is creamy but also has some tang and some acidity to it, which is really good for the flavor.

And then obviously, you can customize this however you want but just throwing that out there. It's a nice side dish and you feel good about eating it but it actually tastes good.

AS: And you could sprinkle some CBD gummies on top.

GE: Absolutely, get crazy with it.

LG: Is this your own recipe?

GE: Yeah, I'm sure I didn't invent it but I … Nor did I consult a recipe to achieve it. OK.

LG: OK. Gilad, you're actually a pretty good cook.

GE: You haven't tasted it but …

LG: No but I've had … What did you make at your house that time?

GE: Oh, that was good. Yeah.

LG: Some kind of tacos.

GE: I made some chicken tinga tacos. Yeah, thanks Lauren.

LG: Yeah.

GE: I'm glad you remember that.

LG: They were good. And then you had, what was the … Oh, it wasn't tzatziki, it was …

GE: I made Baba Ganoush.

LG: Baba Ganoush.

GE: That was kind of a failure but we'll try again.

LG: I thought it was pretty good.

GE: Thank you.


GE: Lauren, do you have any recommendations?

LG: I recommend that Gilad gets a tattoo.

AS: And a Quest 2.

LG: And a Quest 2 headset.

AS: We have big plans for you, Gilad.

GE: I'm going to be a tatted gamer.

LG: Welcome to the Pacific Northwest. Yeah. My recommendation this week does have to do with the metaverse. I recommend Beat Saber in Meta … I almost said Oculus again, Meta Quest 2. I was playing Beat Saber the other night with my brother, he was in town visiting. And at some point I said, "We've got to get you in the metaverse." I didn't really say that. I just said, "Do you want to try the Oculus?" And he said, "Sure." So I downloaded Beat Saber, it's $30. I think it's more if you decide to buy the packs of artist led series, like-

GE: Lauren, what is it?

LG: Oh, sorry. OK. Well, you're holding virtual lightsabers. It's a game/workout app where you're standing on … I'm very bad at describing games because I actually am not a gamer TM, but you're standing on a platform in the virtual world and these blocks are flying at you and they're color coded, and they also have arrows pointing in the direction that you're supposed to swing at. And then in each of your hands where you're holding the Oculus control … Pardon me, the Meta controllers. Oh, fuck it. I'm just going to say Oculus all the time. Controllers, you then have to swing at the blocks flying at you. You also have to duck to avoid certain objects and veer side to side. And there's this really great hypey, pumping music that's guiding you through it. And then if you decide that you want to try one of the artist series like Billie Eilish or Lady Gaga, then you pay more for those packs. But I was just playing along to the generic music and actually, it was quite good.

GE: It sounds like it's a little bit like a cross between guitar hero, where you're doing things timed to music that's flying at you, and some sports game where you're swinging stuff and moving your body.

LG: Exactly. It wasn't all that different from FitXR, which is the other game that Adrienne and I mentioned we've been playing too. In that case, you're just using your fists to box. But yeah, you're holding lightsabers. What is more fun than swinging at things with lightsabers?

AS: And getting it back to the metaverse and social engagement question, when you're in FitXR, you're standing next to each other, next to people that you're playing with. But in Beat Saber, you can face each other. You can see how bad your friends are flailing. I have Beat Saber. I'm so good at descriptions, since everyone want to play with me.

LG: To the both of you, Adrienne and Gilad, thank you so much for joining me this week. Gilad, thanks for being a great ho cohost.

GE: And thanks for leaving me to do this alone in the office, guys. Appreciate it.

LG: Anytime, anytime. And thanks to all of you for listening. If you have feedback, you can find all of us on Twitter, just check the show notes. We'll put our handles in there. We also love it when you leave us reviews on Apple podcasts, so feel free to do that. And we'll be sure to read them. This show is produced by the excellent Boone Ashworth who listened to us painstakingly described the metaverse yet again. Boone, we love you in both the metaverse and in real life. Goodbye for now, we'll be back next week.

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