In the frequently cited (mostly by The Metabite) 2018 film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, key protagonists Wade Watts and Samantha Cooke go on a date at a zero-gravity dance club. There they can strut their stuff to the Bee Gees 1976 hit Stayin' Alive safe in the knowledge that their avatars come with an array of fantastic, pre-loaded dance moves, thus avoiding any dancefloor embarrassment.
Part way through the dance, Samantha suggestively enquires whether or not Wade has “come prepared” asking what kind of haptics (technology that can create an experience of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user) he’s wearing. Wade’s sheepish response? A “X1 haptic bootsuit with the microfibre crotch inlay” (emphasis on “crotch inlay”). While we don’t get to see how the date ends, it’s quickly cut short as the two are ambushed by the film’s bad guys, the film does provide a glimpse into dating in the Metaverse as well as what the writers thought people might get up to in the Metaverse.
Match.com, the world’s first dating website, was launched in 1995. Since then, online dating, and subsequently dating applications, have grown in popularity, with hundreds of millions of people participating in a billion-dollar matchmaking industry. Having crossed the Rubicon into the online and mobile space it seems inevitable that dating will move into the Metaverse.
So how might those looking for love and the matchmaking industry benefit from the Metaverse? Today, people can become members of a dating website or mobile platform by creating a profile and uploading personal information like age, gender, sexual orientation, location, and appearance. Most services also encourage members to add photos or videos to their profile.
In a future Metaverse-based dating site, one can imagine a similar sign-up process, whereby users upload information about themselves, allowing dating algorithms to find suitable matches. But after that the similarities end, with members exposed to a completely different experience. Using member information, Metaverse-based dating sites will be able to offer bespoke dating experiences that would never be feasible in the real world. Imagine two members, who both happen to be amateur astronomers. In the Metaverse, they would be able to explore exo-planets outside our solar system, dine on Mars, and share cosmological milestones like the birth of the universe. How about two budding explorers?A trip down the Amazon, drinks atop Mount Everest, dessert at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.The possibilities are endless.
The question is: “how much of ourselves will we want to divulge?” The answer depends on our trust in Metaverse-based dating sites, the security of our personal information and the prevalence of bad actors. A recently released Netflix documentary, The Tinder Swindler, tells the real-life story of Shimon Hayut who, posing as the son of Russian-Israeli diamond mogul, used the dating app Tinder to trick women into lending him millions of dollars, money he would never repay.
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