VRChat - New Wild West in Virtual Reality

Original author: Matthew Gault

I decided that VRChat was a brilliant invention when I first heard Mickey Mouse rap. I was in some kind of dungeon, all the walls were covered with images of mice. For ten minutes I was wading through a hell of a corridor depicting the worst moments in the life of Mickey. The tempo of rap music changed randomly. It was an insult to all my feelings at all possible levels - I had never experienced anything like this before.

It was awful, but for some reason I liked it - the perfect description for VRChat as a whole.

VRChat is quickly gaining leadership positions on the Steam site. In this free application, the user plunges into the virtual world , can explore the infinite space created by other rooms and interact with thousands of people. This is an open-air fairy-tale country where players can create characters and rooms as high-tech or simple as their imagination allows.

According to Steam Charts, from the new year, the number of VRChat users has grown from a few hundred to more than 15,000. According to Steam Spy , on January 16, the number of app installations exceeded 1.8 million. This is a modest figure for a Steam product, but a huge step for a bit of a nasty application, originally designed for a small audience - people with VR headsets.

Perhaps you did not use the application and did not even hear about it, but you probably saw the meme born by it - the Ugandan Naklza . Nackles is a red echidna from the Sonic the Hedgehog video game franchise. Ugandan Knacks - the evil version of the echidna. Some VRChat participants take this look, bother the rest of the characters (especially female), click languages ​​and speak with an African accent. When Knuckles finds a woman, he calls her the Queen and spits on the rest, calling them false queens.

On the Polygon portal, a new meme is called “problematic,” and this is putting it mildly. In every room in which I wandered into VRChat, I was caught up with little sassy impatient spits and clicks. Despite all this, I still enjoyed the time spent in the app.

The ability of this meme to step beyond VRChat on Twitter (mainly via Twitch) is one of the reasons for its immense popularity. But there are others: it awakens nostalgia for a more “wild” and unresolved Internet, it has open source code, and for the game it is not necessary to have a VR headset. I don't have a headset, but for me it was still a very interesting experience .

I will not say that I have always had fun, although sometimes it is rather funny. The chaos that makes VRChat so attractive also opens it up for all sorts of nonsense that is full on the Internet. This brings to the surface the basic instincts of the World Wide Web.

When you first enter the app, you feel as if you were a horror hero of the 1990s.- With all the "charms", including poor graphics. Easy to open the menu and go through dozens of user-created islands, cafes, comedy clubs, dungeons and forests.

The portal brought me to an island full of knocks. They ran under my feet, clicked my tongue and asked if I knew the way. From here I was transported to the “dressing room”. There have been a lot of free avatars based on memes. In it, I pinned on myself the image of two-dimensional Ben Solo, in which he spent the second part of the journey.

Crossroads of a typical Japanese city. Other characters gathered around me, making fun of my appearance and asking about various sex services. I turned and saw a strange figure of rectangles - with a naked member and a racist statement in the whole chest.

Surrounded by strange characters, I left the intersection and found myself in a place recreating the “Stone Flower” scene from the game Nier Automata. Alphonse from the anime "The Steel Alchemist" sat in silence and looked at the flowers. I moved back to the labyrinth with Mickey Mouse, and then to some (seemingly cheap) restaurant Chuck E Cheese, where branded mice danced on the stage.

An hour later, I was already sitting in the theater with a group of Ronald MacDonalds and a tank standing nearby. Together we watched The Dawn of the Dead in George Romero's version. From the tank constantly heard the Russian language. Pretty soon, I realized that it was time to log out. I would have lost many hours of life in this strange VR-world - despite the fact that I did not even wear a helmet. Being in VRChat was definitely addictive.

“VRChat took off thanks to three factors,” says Wagner James Au, author of the book “Making of Second Life” and the New World Notes blog VR. “It allows users to upload their own avatars from Unity, and it has a basic physics engine. It can be reached without a VR helmet, which allows more players to participate. Finally, YouTube and Twitch streamers unlocked the potential of this freedom and anarchy and began to do various crazy things - as a result, their videos quickly became viral. ”

Ay cited the example of another social VR application - Sansar from Linden Lab. It offers high-quality video clips and software for corporate training. There is High Fidelity - a VR program that offers HD images and works with blockchain technology. But most users do not care. It is much more interesting for people to instantly dive into the game, enjoy chaos and be its cause.

Chaos is one of the best components of VRChat, but not everyone is having fun in such an environment. The openness of the platform has already repeatedly provoked manifestations of racism and misogyny.

Walking around Cafe Leblanc from Persona 5 and Dalaran from World of Warcraft was fun. To meet the naklzz, asking me to take them to the queen - not very. Like the AOL chat rooms from the mid-1990s, VRChat embodies the wild and chaotic state of the Internet that many miss. VR apps are now the new Wild West: one of those weird unregulated places where no one knows what will happen in the near future. Soon the situation will change - but for now it's funny and pathetic at the same time.

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