Virtual Reality Will Now Ruin 'The Office'
In an era where huge corporations are frustrated at their inability to get employees to come back to the office, Meta is pinning its future on getting people to come back to The Office.
Horizon Worlds, the social virtual reality app nested inside Meta’s VR headset, just announced that users can hang out in a digital version of everyone’s favorite Scranton paper office. Because what’s more fun than pretending to sit at a desk and make sales calls about 40 pound letter stock?
It’s all part of an effort to bring “iconic content to life through experiences in the metaverse,” says Visha Shal, Meta’s redundantly titled vice president of metaverse. For NBC Universal, it’s one more way to wring additional revenue out of The Office besides countless cast-member podcasts, cookbooks, traveling exhibitions, and the 392 (actual number) Office doodads currently available in the NBC store.
What can one actually do in a virtual Office? Judging by the walk-through shared by YouTuber The Virtual Nomad, not much besides getting motion-sick.
A walk through the front door brings you to Pam’s desk, empty of its iconic candy dish and plants. Hey, there’s the teapot Jim gave her for Christmas! What’s inside -- Jim’s high school yearbook photo? A hot sauce packet? A note confessing his secret passion? Er, no, looks like all you can do is drop it on the virtual floor.
A walk around the desks doesn’t turn up much -- a security badge for Dwight with Fart for his middle name. A few Creed Thoughts on a computer monitor. There’s nothing going on in the conference room except for an unenthusiastic birthday banner.
The most “robust” experience in the walkthrough is Michael’s office, which features a dumbed-down Dundie, a Post-it note with Michael’s easily guessed password, and a World’s Best Boss coffee mug that looks like a roll of toilet paper with a handle.
At least on this walkthrough, it doesn’t appear one can hang out in the virtual breakroom, bullpen, warehouse, or bathroom. But it’s early. We get it. The experience will surely get more robust over time. But will it continue to be so … empty? This is post-apocalyptic Scranton, office furniture in place and utterly devoid of life. One guesses your digital friends can come with, or virtual strangers, probably. That might be just as offputting -- what kind of office environment is full of floating, legless avatars?
The big question is “What do I do once I’m here?” It’s an existential question that The Office’s Stanley Hudson asked himself every day. Maybe there’s a book of virtual crossword puzzles to pass the time?
Other experiences in the NBC Universal cosmos are also coming to the metaverse, including environments from Universal Monsters, DreamWorks, Blumhouse, and Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. Some of those scenarios lend themselves to more fun than others--virtual reality is a fertile spot for jumpscares.
Until then, we’ll have to wait until they add a virtual Roy that we can spray with digital mace.
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Top image: Oculus VR