In the comfortable but embarrassing VR sleeping rooms

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Even if you are alone at home in your own bed, feeling safe is crucial to relaxation and sleep.

One day I walked into the bedroom and immediately heard a child’s voice in my ear. The robot boy tried and failed to engage the medieval knight and me in conversation. (My avatar was a stick of butter with a little top hat, because why not?) The robot grudgingly drifted over to the corner where about seven avatars slept peacefully together. Then the boy’s voice said, “I will kill you. I will surely kill you.”

The Metaverse is notoriously full of underage users, and my forays into dorm rooms confirmed that kids often pop up disturbingly in these grown-up spaces. Another bedroom I visited was full of baby-like voices speaking in Spanish and French. I took the elevator up to the “ceiling” and found a corner with plush, velvet couches lit by red lights. “Hey, I like Avi [avatar]” said a child’s voice behind me. I turned around to find another robot avatar talking about something that sounded scary. “I like yours too,” said a human voice. “Do you want a hug?” The boy floated away and I followed without worrying.

Schwerd told me he also sees children in the dormitories. “You’re definitely going to make minors a nuisance,” he said. But he insists most bedrooms are quiet and “respectful”.

As I travel, I find this to be mostly true. Some of the bedrooms I stumbled upon were empty and quiet. Other avatars were clinging to each other, fast asleep. Still other groups of avatars huddled together, alert and silent, some whispering, others enjoying themselves. I often felt the need to mutter “I’m sorry” and footsteps, forgetting that few would hear or care that I was dripping butter in a room full of avatars.

I couldn’t fall asleep in VR. I was very aware of my surroundings and the headset was uncomfortable on my face. But I find some rooms disturbing, bedrooms quiet and peaceful, easy places to sit and sit. I struggle to find quiet places to relax in the real world, and if nothing else, virtual bedrooms have given me the space and time to lay back and look up at the stars.

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