The ongoing pandemic has led to everyone feeling a little disconnected from one-another. It’s no surprise that we crave human interaction when we can’t see one another! However, Zoom just feels too… meeting-ish. Communities don’t really form around Zoom. I think that’s why folks are turning to more “video game”-like aspects to break the physical distances between us.
When we’re meeting in person, we’re usually limited by physics. This is something we’re really used to. You can only have so many people in a room, you can’t really hear folks outside of a short distance away, and you know when someone is talking to you because they are usually giving you their attention.
So - simulating those physical limitations has been seen in a few products (games? tools? communication devices?) that’ve been dropping. I’d first seen something like this at the Recurse Center - they have Virtual RC & it’s really neat! It’s like being in the RC space but you’re represented by just a little avatar version of your face. I think there’s a few other ways that this can work - and products show that’s the case as well.
Skittish is one of these - and I saw it on the front page of Hacker News. You get an avatar that’s a Raccoon or an Owl or a snake - and you hang out in a virtual space, watch videos together, all that. It’s neat, but definitely limited in what it can do.
Gather.town is a bit older, and if I remember correctly had Pokemon sprites to begin with, way back. A few college students tossed it together and put it up online & it grew like wildfire.
To go a bit more realistic, there’s Hub by Mozilla. This is available via VR and feels much more video-gamey than the others. You can easily modify the space you’re in and customize it together with other people. I’ve seen a number of other examples like this - the closest being Rec Room.
There’s still Second Life and Second Life has been around.. forever. Thing is… Second Life gets weird. Real weird. Let’s not think about that too much.
I think there’s always a want for Human connection, though. It doesn’t even have to be instant. Sometimes you just want to listen to some chilled out music and write letters to people via a deer postman. Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to) gives you that experience. Kind Words is about writing nice letters and reading nice letters from other people. It makes you feel much better inside than many other interactions.
To be honest? I think we need less Zoom and we need more Kind Words in the world.