Second Life, FFXIV, and ACNH

NYT Trumpets “Metaverse” Wedding as a New Thing Like Second Life, Final Fantasy, and Animal Crossing Don’t Exist

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Recently, The New York Times had a piece about a couple who had gotten married in the, quote, “Metaverse.” The couple, Traci and Dave Gagnon, met “in the cloud,” as the article says, and were married in person back in September while also hosting a virtual ceremony for those who couldn’t be there in person.

Full disclosure: When I hear the word “Metaverse,” I immediately picture a certain ’90s computer-animated series that, at the time, felt extraordinary with its animation and had a much younger me convinced that there was a whole world inside the computer I used in my dad’s basement.

ReBoot screenshot

I also think of movies like Hackers, which … yeah, I really did think hacking was that dramatic.

HACK THE PLANET

Basically, when I see someone go on about the mysterious world of the “Metaverse” in 2021, I laugh because we currently exist in a time when I can have an entire conversation with someone on the other side of the planet in seconds.

It just sounds so outdated.

It also, in the case of this wedding provided by a company called Virbela, looks outdated, too.

According to The New York Times, Virbela is a company that builds virtual environments for events. In a time when COVID has prevented us from having events, it’s no surprise that there are companies offering ways to recreate what can’t currently be done in person. As someone who used to frequent conventions, a lot of them went completely virtual, some using Zoom to host panels and others actually recreating an entire exhibit hall that you could virtually walk through.

That being said, the reason people are dunking on this wedding is not that we have any problem with the event itself, but the way in which the NYT presented it has this “never been done before” and “is this the future we envisioned when watching The Jetsons?” tone about it, which—lol huh?! That’s not the couple’s fault, of course, but this “mystical new virtual space” narrative is hilarious.

The article being linked in that tweet is from 2008, but apparently, there’s evidence of virtual weddings from back in 1996.

Yes, there is a mention of Animal Crossing at one point in the New York Times piece, but overall, this is being presented as some sort of newfound technology when gamers have been going to virtual weddings for years, and those weddings can look like this these days:

The difference is, I suppose, that Virbela can customize the event to look exactly the way you want—at a price, of course.

Patrick Perry, the director of event sales and partnerships for Virbela, said the cost of holding an event in the metaverse “depends on what you want,” adding, “if there’s an engineer building out an MGM ballroom or something of that nature, then the cost goes up,” ranging from a few thousand dollars to well over $10,000.

To be fair (not really), the Gagnons didn’t pay for their virtual wedding; their coworkers chipped in to put it together for them. According to The New York Times, “Ms. Gagnon estimated that it would have cost around $30,000 had they paid for it; representatives for Virbela declined to disclose a price for the event.”

Virbela, my dear friend, if the final product looks like something from the early 2000s when we know it can be done better, then I’m better off using items in Animal Crossing to make my own wedding chapel. If you’re gonna provide a service that already exists in some way, shape, or form, you have to do something that makes it worth using you instead of, well, downloading Final Fantasy XIV—and hey, they’re kind enough to give you an entire MMORPG to go with it!

Also, look at the options you get in Second Life!

Virtual weddings have come a long way over the years. Virbela has a lot of catching up to do.

I think a part of me is also especially salty because I grew up in a time when doing such a thing was seen as weird and a sign that someone was too obsessed with whatever game they were playing. The thought of having weddings in-game was met with this sort of “seek help, dweeb” mentality.

While I do get that COVID has definitely made everyone reconsider their feelings on what folks can do online, I feel some kind of way when it’s presented as this new, innovative idea instead of acknowledging that it’s been here the whole time.

(Image: Linden Lab/Square Enix/Nintendo)

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Author
Image of Briana Lawrence
Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)