If Wales wants more tourists, it should be spending money on anything but this


I had a go. To be honest, I thought initially I was only watching a promo video. It reminded me of those clunky scanning 360-wraps used by estate agents too lazy to meet you at the house you want to look at. When I visited, the counter said “1 online”. Was that me? Anyway, what I was looking at turned out to be the Welsh metaverse, and so I took a swig of Brains and bit into a Welsh cake and opened it out to fill my Mac monitor and set off.

The setting was a small, hilly island with the sea on all sides – perhaps a projection of what most Welsh people would like to live on. The avatar was a slack-jawed, hangdog urbanite with a taut Action Man rug in a sick-coloured puffer jacket and burgundy slacks (a cross between Michael Portillo and Jamie Redknapp), who has found himself in a green field surrounded by the sound of waves and seagulls and aeroplanes and bells ringing and sheep. All Wales, at once. Or all anywhere. He, in this pastoral-rural milieu, looked a bit like the losers in Trainspotting who tried out the country for about a minute. Using the keyboard, shift key and space bar, I could make him run, walk and jump. So off we went.

I directed the man – me? – past the flapping green and white flags and artificial-looking trees towards a modern looking building that I thought might be a café or museum. It was a space dedicated to nature and landscapes, I was told, in English and Welsh. I clicked on an information board. Nothing happened.

I managed to leap on to the castle but then got stuck on the turret. I noticed searchlights streaking across the daytime sky. That was weird. Planes kept landing, with far greater frequency than at Cardiff International. We did some somersaults and I left. Or rather, I left the site. I get bored and frustrated with non-intuitive interfaces, whether that’s getting a pint in a London pub or exploring the metaverse.  

The graphics? To be honest, they seemed a bit basic, designed to give the impression Wales is sunny and clean and unspoiled. And boring. I’d have appreciated a slate mine scar or an amusement arcade on a rainy day to enhance the reality of the virtuality.  

But I am perhaps not the intended market. I’m 58, have been to Wales many times, have even lived in Wales, and I don’t have an Oculus headset or anything similar.

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