At 6 a.m., while the rest of us were just waking up or still sound asleep in our analog beds, the residents of Decentraland, a metaverse-esque virtual-reality platform, were partying their digital asses off. Kind of.
“This is the #metaverse … A live rave happening right now,” read a recent tweet from Alex Moss, the chief technology officer of an NFT-development agency. The accompanying video showed 37 seconds of about 20 avatars standing around while techno music blared in the background. The energy was less “rave” and more “beginning of a work party at which people aren’t sure if they should dance or not.”
To clarify, Decentraland is not the same as Facebook’s metaverse; the key difference being that Decentraland actually exists, whereas Facebook’s metaverse is still being built. However, the concepts are essentially the same: a virtual space to explore, chat, stand around while a couple of Norwegian DJs go crazy on some synthesizers, etc. Naturally, I needed to experience this for myself.
It’s surprisingly easy to join Decentraland. All you need is an email address and no shame. After you choose a name, you get to customize your avatar, which, of course, is the best part of any virtual-reality game. Unfortunately, the default options in Decentraland are very limited. For one, you have to be a human man or woman — at least in Club Penguin you got to be a penguin. The available hair, eyes, eyebrows, mouth, etc., remind me of the Miis from Nintendo’s Wii. (I chose eyes that were perpetually closed. I did not want my precious avatar witnessing anything she could not unsee.) The fashion was equally limited. Not a Balenciaga skin in sight. I went with a sailor top, pants I think were dark blue, and flippers as shoes. Then I was ready to party.
When you enter this metaverse, you’re given the option to join a live event. There was one event featuring a Beatles jam band and another that had NFT in the name. I considered going to something called “How to Treat Low Back Pain” but ultimately settled on entering the event “Hate F*ck Metarave.” I have never been to a rave in any capacity, but now I can confidently say … I still have not been to anything remotely resembling a rave.
I’m not sure if I arrived at the tail end of the party, but, uh, attendance was sparse. Even fewer people than in the video. It sounded like a rave — too loud and aggressively electronic — but did not look like one. I saw about a dozen people and absolutely zero dancing. I couldn’t figure out how to make my avatar dance either, though. Also, my avatar ran everywhere instead of walked? Very alarming. A hurried little lady in some flippers. I tried to climb up one of the big humanoid statues you can see in the above video but failed — in part because I was bad at maneuvering my avatar around but mostly because my computer froze. I will not be visiting again.
However, I’m not going to yuck anyone’s yum. If the people inside Decentraland enjoyed their chill, mild-mannered daytime rave, good for them! I will be minding my own business in this knockoff Club Penguin.