Tech

This Platform Is the Best Way to Fight Video Call Fatigue

The site aims to humanize virtual interactions online.
IMAGE GATHER TOWN
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There’s no denying that Zoom fatigue is real. With video conferencing being the only way to communicate remotely, most of our interactions have become pretty dull. It’s almost robotic how we’ve trained ourselves to stare at a screen for hours on end. That’s why the team behind Gather Town decided to shake things up in this video-screen world we live in.

Gather Town is a website and app that brings new life to the usual video conferencing scene. A huge part of what they stand for is making “virtual interactions more human” through a world of avatars and customizable spaces. It’s possible to design your own work desks and meeting rooms to mimic real life. The proximity chat in-app also adds to the realistic aspect of it all, since you’re able to walk up to another person—or in this case, an avatar—just to say hello.

The team’s goal is to build what they call a "metaverse"which is a virtual surface that goes over the real world to give people a way to interact more freely. Gather Town has options for work, school, and even online events. And ever since they launched in May of 2020, the team has been working on making the online experience as close to reality as possible. 

Of course, they still have the usual online meeting tools that we know all too well. Besides the mute buttons and camera options, the app has whiteboard and share screen features as well. Sharing documents and videos are also possible.

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But let’s say that maybe you felt like taking your work to the nearest coffee shop. Or even to a bar by the shores of a beach. Gather Town has over 80 templates for whatever vibes your online event needs to have. These are created for education and work setups, as well as casual social gatherings. There’s an auditorium template, which has eight breakout rooms that are perfect for seminars. Another template is the large classroom one, complete with desks and chairs that can fit around 100 people. There’s even a cyberpunk detective office template for those who feel like they work better in a themed area. 

And for casual meetups, there are a bunch of multiplayer games that users can choose. There’s the classic tetris, crossword puzzles from different newspapers all over the globe, and even some drawing games for those who are more artistically inclined. And for those who wish to be even more creative, there’s always the option of hosting an escape room from scratch in one of the site’s mysterious mansions.

There are also public events for those who want to expand their social circle. The site’s past events include Harvard Model United Nations and Hackathons, Coinbase’s Office Site Retreats, and several open mic performances. Most of the new public events are posted on the site’s Twitter page, where updates on on-site features and contests are also posted.

Sometimes, the site hosts competitions where users from everywhere in the world can create their own map. The recent contest winner from February of this year was Selider Morelia, with a medieval spin on what a typical workspace would look like. It has a portal garden coupled with about four labyrinths for anyone who dares to discover what’s inside.

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This new metaverse that Gather Town brings jazzes up the monotony of online meetings. It gives people the opportunity to relive the pre-pandemic life, even if only in a virtual sense. It also allows for creativity when it comes to designing spaces as well as coming up with new ideas for map templates. If ever the Zoom fatigue gets a little too disorienting, this site’s definitely something to try. 

 

 

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Teresa Marasigan
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