Financial TimesFinancial Times

On your marks, headset, go: My surprising, scary trip to the metaverse

By Oliver Roeder

24 Feb 2023 · 11 min read

Editor's Note

For Oliver Roeder, the metaverse is “a place where certain joys of the real world are muted and certain pains amplified.” He explores it through trialing a series of virtual reality games for the FT.

The first thing the virtual me did was put on a sweatshirt and a baseball cap, as the real me often does. I wanted to recognise myself in the digital mirror. However, in this zealously distorted facsimile of reality, the cap’s virtual brim rendered large in the centre of my headset screen, a sort of lidless cartoon boomerang blocking the view on my virgin trip to the “metaverse”. Peering carefully around my own head — one navigates many menus in the “metaverse” — I was able to put the hat on backwards, which solved that problem. But others quickly replaced it.

The metaverse (I’ll drop the scare quotes now) is a place where certain joys of the real world are muted and certain pains amplified. I knocked over a real glass of water trying to press a virtual button — an action I’ve performed many times in the real world without incident. I toppled a real table trying to take a virtual selfie. And I am evidently an acute sufferer of that ultimate modern ailment, virtual reality sickness, symptoms of which include nausea and something called “stomach awareness”, the reality of which I can confirm. (The malady, closely related to motion sickness, has to do with the discrepancy between viewed motion and actual motion; inciting events include walking.) And to anticipate your question, no, I did not have legs.

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