Oculus Venues Gives You Courtside Seats in Virtual Reality—and Forces You to Put Down Your Phone

Oculus Venues Gives You Courtside Seats in Virtual Reality—and Forces You to Put Down Your Phone

elt like some character from a canned Black Mirror episode: alone in my boxers on a Sunday night, with a bulky silver headset strapped to my face, a joystick in one hand and a Bud Light in the other. But inside the goggles, I was courtside at a Magic–Cavs game, next to a 16-year-old grocery bagger with virtual blue sunglasses and a virtual blond Afro. His online alias: Slim Shady.

Last year, the NBA and Oculus ran a commercial featuring Adam Levine and Jonah Hill watching the Warriors in their respective homes while their look-alike avatars sat beside each other in VR, nodding, moving their mouths, and waving their hands. They were bro-ing out in Oculus Venues, a virtual theater that lets you watch live concerts, comedy shows, and sports with hundreds of cyber randos. Since I spend most nights scrolling through Twitter and dating apps with a game running in the background, I figured: Why not find the Adam Levine to my Jonah Hill? So one day this spring, I got an Oculus Go headset, decked out my digital self (green hoodie, flattop, and VR headset with cat eyes on it), and picked up a few tall boys for a Monday-night matchup between the Warriors and the Hornets.

After being subjected to an eerie code-of-conduct video (summary: Making the jack-off gesture with my virtual hand could get me virtually ejected), I appeared in my seat as the game started. Someone popped up in the seat next to mine, and, not knowing what to do, I said, “Whaddup?” Then, a boy’s voice: “What’s up? Whatsupwhatsup? What’s up, trill? People around meeeee . . . I’m all the way up here—oh my Lord!” A second voice screeched, “I’M HIS LITTLE SISTER!” I gathered that the one avatar was multiple siblings trying VR for the first time. The little sister’s scouting report on Kevin Durant: “DANG HE BIG!” Read more

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