Inside the cozy but creepy world of VR sleep rooms

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Feeling safe is crucial for relaxation and sleep, even if you are alone in your own bed at home.

I entered a sleep room one day and immediately heard the voice of a child in my ear. The kid, who had a robot avatar, tried and failed to engage me and a medieval knight in conversation. (My avatar was a stick of butter with a tiny top hat, because why not?) Exasperated, the robot floated over to the corner where about seven avatars were peacefully lying together, seemingly asleep. The child’s voice then taunted them: “I will kill you. I will literally kill you. “

It’s well known that the metaverse is full of underage users, and my journey through sleep rooms confirmed that kids pop up disturbingly often in these adult spaces. Another sleep room I visited was overrun with childlike voices speaking Spanish and French. to a “roof” where I found a corner illuminated in red lights with plush, velvety couches. “Hi, I like your avi ,” a kid’s voice said behind me. I swiveled around to find another robot avatar talking to what appeared to be a scarecrow. “I like yours too,” a man’s voice said. “Wanna cuddle?” The child floated away and I followed suit, unnerved.

Schwerd told me that he’d seen kids in sleep rooms, too. “You definitely get underage people being a nuisance,” he says. But he insisted that most sleep rooms were quiet and “respectful.”

As I roamed around, I mostly found this to be true. Some sleep rooms I stumbled into were empty and silent. Others had avatars nestled against each other, fast asleep. Still others had groups of avatars huddled together, awake but quiet, some whispering , others just relaxing. I often felt the need to mutter “Excuse me” and tiptoe, forgetting that since I was a drifting stick of butter in a room full of avatars, few would hear me or care.

I couldn’t fall asleep in VR. I was extremely aware of my surroundings and found the headset on my face uncomfortable. But while I found some rooms to be disturbing, I did discover sleep rooms that were hushed and peaceful, places to simply sit and be. In the real world, I struggle to find quiet places to relax in, and if nothing else, virtual sleep rooms offered me space and time to lie back and stare at the stars.

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