Last week in class we discussed Metaverse, Meta’s new big plan for an online social space. VR is the future of technology, and Metaverse intends to take full advantage of this platform. However, while watching Metaverse’s trailer, I couldn’t help but think “Isn’t this basically just VRChat but less community-oriented?” And so this week I want to talk a bit about VRChat as a platform, and my personal experiences with it.
VRChat: Virtual Reality Chatting
…what, expected more from VRChat? Nope, that’s basically it. Sure, there’s some games and stuff you can play in VRChat if you go to special Worlds (basically little spaces in the game made by people in the community) designed for them, but beyond that, the platform is mostly meant for people to meet up and chill. You could go to a massive Public World to meet people you’ve never met before, or make a small Private World to hang out with some friends across the globe. There’s a wide variety of avatars to choose from, and people have been making a ton of custom avatars both for personal use and for free public access. And of course, there is in-game voice chat, so you can actually sit and talk with that guy from America you met in a big Public World that one time.
In this day and age, meeting up with large numbers of people isn’t exactly the best idea, with the virus still going around doing its thing. VRChat provided people with a way to mitigate this problem. While VR isn’t super widespread yet, it has become more and more accessible through there being more affordable and more convenient options of headsets for people to choose from, such as the Oculus Quest. And funny enough, despite a third of the game’s title being VIRTUAL REALITY, you do not actually need to own any sort of VR equipment to play it! A mouse and keyboard will suffice (what VRChat players jokingly refer to as “playing flat”).
However while the game was originally designed to simply be a hangout space, recently it has been used for big events as well. There have been entire conventions, such as Midwest Fur Fest, that have been hosted completely in VRChat. One friend even told me he had sex with someone through VRChat (it’s quite a process, I hear).
My Personal Experiences
I tried VRChat for the first time about half a year ago. I was urged by one of my friends to give it a shot after he sat me down and explained in great detail the wonders of VRChat. I was convinced and gave it a shot. I was already pretty used to VR by then, I have my own Oculus Rift laying next to me as I write this. It wasn’t until a month later when this same friend (who I will henceforth refer to as Ambro) made a model for me of my fursona (hi I’m a furry yes). When I got into the game and loaded into the avatar of my blue fox, I stood myself in front of an in-game mirror, and just… stared for a little while. It felt unreal. This character, who had been in my head and in drawings for the past few years, was now here, in the game. Not just that, I was my character, something you might say is every furry’s dream. Then seeing myself move, my fingers and arms moving 1:1 with my real body, it felt nothing short of magical. For the first time in ages, VR was magical to me again.
Now, I’ll refrain from rambling about being a furry and the whole community behind it, that is a topic for a different day. But what I will say, is that seeing my other furry friends as their respective characters in VRChat, just like I was my own, was wild. It’s definitely an experience that will stick with me. But hey, if you’re interested in chatting in VR sometime, look for this blue fox somewhere! I look forward to greeting you in cyberspace!