If you have been dying to do so, you can now join Meta’s Horizon Worlds. The company is throwing the doors wide open to everyone for its first effort at creating the Metaverse it recently revealed. However, you will have to be located in either the US or Canada to enjoy this privilege.
Welcome to the world of half-humans, or humans with no legs, a virtual reality place that Meta had been testing with limited users.
Horizon Worlds is an expansive, multiplayer network that requires just a Facebook account for you to chill out with about 20 legless people at a time. Once you get over the creep factor, there are many cool things you can actually do in this virtual space.
This virtual platform started welcoming private testers in 2019 with what closely resembled a Minecraft environment where you could build games. However, Horizon Worlds has evolved into a social platform for meeting people.
The testers before you have attended comedy shows, movie nights, meditation sessions, and there is no reason you can’t join in these fun activities.
Your entry point into Horizon Worlds is the Plaza, a place where people gather, and from where you can enter other worlds and games built by users like you. You can create your own stuff, like a paper plane launcher, and even join a building competition!
Meta promises a library of assets that will be free for everyone which you can then use to build your own items. For now, assets can only be built in VR, but the ability will soon arrive on desktop computers.
However, like any platform where you will meet and interact with total strangers, you need to be on your guards all the time as there have been reports of sexual harassment in this idyllic world where you would have expected the half-humans to be decent. A tester reported how her avatar was groped by another user’s avatar, a stranger. She wrote, “Sexual harassment is no joke on the regular internet, but being in VR adds another layer that makes the event more intense. Not only was I groped last night, but there were other people there who supported this behavior which made me feel isolated in the Plaza.”
VP of Horizon at Meta, Vivek Sharma, said his company investigated the claim. While the abuse happened as alleged, Vivek said the victim did not use the platform’s safety features. Horizon World allows you to block other users from interacting with you. One of the features of the VR world is that a buffer of your view is saved on your Oculus headset which can be extracted and sent to Meta for a human to review when there is an incident.
Vivek, however, said Meta is taking the report as feedback and will make the blocking feature more accessible to prevent future abuses.
To further combat abuse, Horizon Worlds also has human guides that welcome new visitors arriving from the Plaza into the custom worlds. These guides inform the new users of the best practices in the virtual world and how to navigate. They also explain the rules. These guides are power users that have received training from Meta. Think of them as volunteer forum admins.
If you wonder why you would want to linger in Horizon Worlds, making money is not one of them, at least for now, as Meta has not added monetization to the platform. You might be able to do this in the future, as Meta wants to tie in Horizon Venues, a different setup for organizing events in VR. Here, you can theoretically throw a big party or concert. You could also find a way to make some bucks with Horizon Workrooms, which is meant for work collaboration in VR.
For now, the joy of Horizon Worlds lies in creating stuff as a guide, creator, or player. According to Sharma, “The act of creating itself is part of the appeal of this thing. Creation is kind of the product.”
There was no comment as to whether the avatars will ever grow legs.