This Website Lets You Hang Out Face-to-Face with Your Friends in the Metaverse
The metaverse is a great way to stay connected with friends and family, so when I heard about Nowhere — a free website that lets you hang out with your friends in virtual worlds — I was excited.
What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse isn’t a singular entity. Rather, it’s more like a collection of interactive, virtual spaces. That can include VR, augmented reality or even interactive spaces within online games like Fortnite, including the Travis Scott concert and the Soundwave Series: Tones and I show.
And What is Nowhere?
In Nowhere, your body is represented in the metaverse by a floating orb with a live feed of your face from your webcam resting above it. You can’t see your own face (just like in real life) but anyone in the same space can, and you can see them. Spatial audio lets you communicate with anyone nearby, and game-like controls let you navigate the space to chat with other people. It’s like having face-to-face conversations, albeit virtually.
There are similar programs, like VRChat — but this requires you to have a VR headset, which aren’t cheap and require a computer powerful enough to run them. From what I’ve seen so far of Nowhere, it’s the same experience made much more accessible.
Anyone with an internet connection can jump into a space in Nowhere, even (probably) your technologically-challenged parents or grandparents. The other big difference is that VRChat uses avatars to represent people. You can appear in-game as Geralt from The Witcher, Spider-Man or thousands of other characters, which is fun but a bit impersonal. Nowhere lets you exist in the virtual world with your own face, which can make getting together with your friends feel much more genuine.
When you create a Nowhere account you’ll automatically get your own “space” — a virtual environment where you can meet with friends to do things like chat and watch movies. The streaming service allows the host to play videos in their browser and stream them in Nowhere for everyone to watch. The streaming feature works well, but it’s probably not going to replace IRL movie nights anytime soon. There are also options for a stage, places to hang art, and other ways to customise your space to make it feel like home.
Nowhere wants to be the place where friends and companies socialise in the future. It won’t be a replacement for spending time with your loved ones in real life, but it’s a good substitute for when you can’t get together and don’t have access to a VR headset. I spent about 20 minutes in a space with a friend and we were surprised by how fun it was. The features are fairly limited, but the inclusion of webcams makes up for that. Really, it’s just a great place to hang out with your friends when you can’t see them IRL for pandemic or related reasons.