Meta continues to develop the social elements of its metaverse push, with the introduction of ‘World Chat’ within Horizon Worlds, providing another way for users to interact within the VR space.
As you can see in this example, the new World Chat option is a text-based thread – like a DM chain – which will pop-up on screen within the Horizon environment.
As explained by Meta:
“Whether you’re playing games, watching a comedy show, or meeting new friends at a concert, it’s now easier than ever to chat it up with those around you! People will be able to connect with or follow others participating in the chat (e.g., message, start a party) by clicking the person’s name to view their profile and inviting them to connect. People will also be able to @mention others in world chat who are in the same world.”
That’s in addition to the existing voice chat elements in Horizon, providing another, supplementary contact stream to enable more connection within the virtual realm.
Though, that’ll also open up a new surface for potential abuse and misuse, with Meta already being forced to implement a range of user controls to shield people from unwanted attention within VR experiences. This element is likely an even bigger concern in the VR space due to the more immersive nature of the process, which can leave users feeling like they have no escape from abuse or attacks leveled at them when in their headset.
To counter this, Meta’s adding a range of safety elements into World Chat, including proactive scanning and removal of messages that violate its VR Code of Conduct, and user controls to ensure that each individual is able to shut out and shut off communications if they choose.
“Turn on the blurred chats setting to choose whether people you don’t know can read your messages. When the blurred chats setting is turned on, world chat messages from people you don’t know will appear blurred, and your chats will appear blurred to them, too. The blurred chats setting is turned on automatically for people ages 13 – 17.”
It’s another social element within Meta’s expanding metaverse push, which it’s hoping will eventually supplant the current social media platforms as the preferred engagement surface. And while text-based messaging may seem like a backward step, it could help to provide more clarity, while also better aligning with the communication methods that users are now more accustomed to within online connection.
Meta says that World chat will be rolling out slowly to a small number of people, before being expanded to broader audiences later this summer.