My friend challenged me to play and document one video game that I haven’t played for an entire month. Most single-player games can be completed in less than a month, so I had to find a multiplayer game that’s not a competitive game or an traditional MMO that can keep my interest for an entire month. I always wanted to try VRChat. I never got around to playing it, other than making an account a while back.
I’m sure most people who click here know what VRChat is and want to hear about a new user’s experience. But if for some reason if you don’t know what it is, VRChat is a virtual reality social platform where users can interact with each other in customizable avatars and environments. It allows for a range of activities from games to socializing with people from all around the world.
I had two personal goals in mind throughout this journey. First, I wanted to document my experience without it being in first-person view. Second, I wanted to have conversations with people to see how I can improve personally in one way or another. Although my VR experience was limited, I was ready to dive in and see what this platform had to offer.
During my time in VRChat, I focused on four key areas - the ingame settings, the first-time user experience, the culture of the platform, and potential areas for improvement. So, I'll be sharing all of my experiences with you and giving you my own take on my VRChat experience.
As in any PC games the first thing anybody does is go to the Display and Graphical settings. I wasn’t expecting much as I assume VR games tend to have very limited settings and especially when it comes to VRChat. Since models can vastly vary.
Fortunately it seems like the people who work at VRChat put a lot of thought into the settings that’s beyond graphics. Like being able to have personal space, adjust your height, and a plethora of privacy and safety settings. I liked that you’re able to choose between sitting and standing mode. Although I think eventually it should be able to pick up if you’re sitting or standing but I’m not sure how they will be able to implement that but I’m sure they will eventually figure that out.
More specifically the Performance Ranking for every avatar in the game. And be able to set the limits on that ranking and I hope VRChat will continue improving that. I can see this happening that certain parameters shouldn’t be at at the ranking that it was given.
There are some settings I have a hard time understanding’ it’s description on what it’s talking about and I have to figure out what it means through trial-&-error. Even with trial-and-error, I might still have a hard time understanding what it does. I think each of these setting should show you a video preview on what it does when you hover over it.
VRChat did a pretty good job at introducing you on what to expect when you jump into the world. Although the tutorial only lasted about 30 seconds. If I remembered correctly was just, here are some sample characters, move here and you’re done with the tutorial where it basically test if you know basic movement controls which admittedly the only thing you really need fundamentally for a social game. But what if I needed to mute my microphone?
Once you’re in the world which I initially assumed it was the second part of a tutorial but instead I quickly learned this is like your personal hub. A quick introduction to the left and interactable object that you will likely be seeing. Like this rainbow shuriken like object, a pen, an eraser. And further along that path a recommended world to get you get started. Then in the middle of the room you are given some starter avatar and be able to see how mirrors work. Although all of this is nice, it’s assumed that you know the gaming language.
Knowing nothing about the privacy settings in VRChat. When I started interacting with people, I was expecting a bunch of eccentric, slur filled, teens or preteens. But I could not have been wrong. I went in “No Time Two Talk” as the first place to get used to VRChat because it was right there in the hub. I met mostly people that just wanted to talk.
With some of the people in there, I’m not sure if it’s because I introduced myself saying I was new to VRChat so I think everyone felt somewhat obligated so be nicer towards me if the culture they have is to want to game to grow. Because if I had a bad experience with the people in the game, I would most likely not stick around. Leaving the game to die off. I think this is something I should have expected but didn’t cross my mind as the game has been out since 2014.
The second day it felt more like either people were just there to not say anything or to troll like hell. Whatever the case, I eventually found the privacy setting. It did a fine job at making it easy to understand and after learning more about it, it seems like it is encouraged to be nicer to other people since there’s a hierarchy of trust per account.
I eventually met more people through these bars, hotels, and even events. Overall it felt like a chill experience. It was still hard for me to go up to people and walk into a conversation. When I did, more or less people seemed more accepting of it. But I think the best part is when I was trying to interact at the right time, and people would try to get my attention and interact with me. I thought a lot about this and it seems like, I may be the type if I get invited enough times, I will start getting more and more comfortable going up to people and talking to them. This is because if I consciously recognize when other people are doing this to me, I can start doing it to other people. However, if I don’t consciously recognize it and just let it happen, I may not be able to do it. This isn’t something I’m not 100% sure about yet, but it sure did seem that way. But also, I think when you open the game up 99% of the time you are there to interact with people. Unlike the real world where some people just don’t want to be interacted with.
Another thing I found interesting is that even you’re a guy and if you just have interactions with girls and gay guys. They seem to be more willing to send you friend requests. This can be for a number of reasons. They could genuinely be interested in being friends, or knowing what I know now about how the Trust and Privacy settings work, they just want to up their Trust reputation. But regardless, girls seems more trusting if you have normal conversation with them. I’m not sure if they are like that in real life and I was oblivious about it, if it is then it’s very apparent here. This is something I need to think about more.
The developer-2-community relationship from my impression was awesome
There are few things that I think VRChat Inc. can do improve the user experience.
Have a way that the game recognizes writing objects like a pencil/pen and in your personal option be able to toggle lock it to a specific location of your hand. And have it so you can choose where it locks based off your preference. It’s a strange feeling especially for first time users to use it like it’s a firearm where it’s pointed forward and not down. I’m sure you get used to it but it’ll be nice to have the option to have it naturally downit to be more natural.
Right now I think the world filtering system feels very limited. I think you should be able to use the tags and be able to use the “and/or” filter on multiple tags and have a toggle where you can be able to hide empty worlds. Also have how many total people there are in each world and lastly be able to sort it all.
I didn’t realize this until a chatter brought this up, Because we are in a VR world we do not know how old everyone is and that can lead to a lot of problems. Having to ask every single person and/or checking every single person you interact with’s profile can be done that is if they do put their age in their profile let alone if what they say or write down is what they claim it to be.
This may be a little controversial but for the trust and safety of each user it could be an option to do ID verification. I understand this is a global game and it would be difficult to implement this for every country due to law and regulation but if you can do this, you can make rooms for only verified people and they have to be at age entered by the room creator to enter.
Most people and when I mean people usually gamers are memeing that Meta Facebook’s version of this looks really bad and it is. I don’t doubt that VRChat that it’s better. However, watching people like Marques Brownlee talk about impressive tech that Meta is doing and how they are spending billions in VR and to make it feel real isn’t something I think should be taken lightly. At the time of writing this, nobody other than the people working on that project knows what it’s like. But to quote:
They realized that people do certain things in real life, and then they want to bring that thing into VR. Oh, you'd like to do this? Here's a VR version. Oh, you do this other thing? Here's a VR version. Over and over again. And ideally, for them, anyway, convincing people to use the VR version just will become a matter of making the VR version really, really good. Hopefully better than the real life version.
This bring me back to the point about holding the pen, because in real life, you wouldn’t spend more than 3 seconds trying to adjust holding the pen comfortably.
Some of these VR applications are actually scary good and starting to look better than the non-VR version. And for Meta, if they can get enough of these things to be real, then they'll be making this metaverse thing happen.
I don’t think people at META isn’t looking at VRChat and going, ‘that’s something we should include but let’s make it easier to use or more natural or better than real life’
Graphics and aesthetics can always be improved and saying that it looks bad is valid and after seeing something that looks like that, I don’t think they are spending billions of dollars on the visuals but the technology of VR and graphics is more than likely the last thing they are thinking about.
I rather not have to be in Facebook’s world because I don’t know what kind of information they will be taking from me. I also think that Facebook will have too much guidelines on avatars which will prevent you from being fully creative.
But at the same time, standardization on certain looks can be nice too but if more people do have a more preferred standardized look, it may not be for the thing that people want or it may not appeal to many people.
I think competitive games like shooters, mobas, isn’t really a experience for a challenge since it’s something that’s like a pick-up and go and I have a hard time using it as a challenge. I already play an MMO. So I thought why not VRChat. This was a hard one to write as I did this in February and didn’t start writing this till mid-April so I realized how important it is to write things down quickly so I don’t have to go back and try to remember or rewatch parts so it reminds me on events that happened.
But anyways, my experience overall with the game has been very good, I had fun with it, and I didn’t have that feeling where you’re playing this games that you don’t want to because you’re doing it because of this challenge. I think it’s great and I can feel confident that VRChat Inc will always improve based on player feedback with major updates almost every 1-2 months with small weekly patches.