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VRChat: Benefits and Drawbacks of the Immaterial World



Your day is just getting started. You slip on your Meta Quest 2 headset, strap into your full body tracking, and enter the world of VR.


Here, you can be whatever – whoever – you want.


From playing games with friends to partying, forming deep genuine friendships, and exploring seemingly endless possibilities and worlds, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy in the vast world of VRChat – a massive VR social platform.


But there’s another side to the story – one filled with danger lurking around the corner.


In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into what virtual reality is in the scope of VRChat and reveal the positives (and negatives) that the game has to offer.


Spoiler alert: it goes so much deeper than you think!


What is Virtual Reality?


In short, virtual reality is defined as a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment or image that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.


Gosh, when it’s said like that, it sounds so sterile, stale, and boring – but that’s far from the truth.


In reality, these headsets allow us to step into practically any universe that we can dream or think up – so long as we have the tools to create it.


Inside of a virtual reality headset, such as a Meta Quest 2 or a Valve Index, there are two screens – one for each eye. When peered through, these screens come together to fabricate an image that simulates the feeling of you actually being or experiencing something or somewhere.


Pretty impressive, right?


Now, take this concept and imagine a world in VRChat in which you can do, be, and go anywhere you want with the click of a button.


VRChat: The Positives

Social Connections


First and foremost VRChat is a social platform – one where you can meet new people, foster old friendships, and grow closer to new social groups with similar interests.


There’s no limit to the number of new connections you can make, some of which will be the foundations for lifelong friendships (and possibly even romantic relationships, if you’re lucky).


And meeting people doesn’t have to be so scary, especially for those with social anxieties and other neurodivergent tendencies. In fact, a vast, concentrated amount of players are neurodivergent and on the spectrum due to the inclusivity, ease of access, and control over social environments.


Feeling physically removed from a social situation can really allow those with insecurities to flourish and come out of their shell, especially when they can dawn an “avatar” or character of their choosing. The sky is seriously the limit.


It can also extend to those that feel isolated. Remember the COVID lockdowns and how alone we all felt? Virtual reality breaks down those barriers in a new and unique way that allows for human connection, even under the most dire of circumstances. Dare I say, it’s saved some lives. After all, loneliness is a deadly killer.


But is it just for chatting? Not necessarily!


Gaming and Entertainment


Once you’ve got some buddies to travel the metaverse with, the (VR)world is your oyster!


VRChat is a game that is full of community made content. Those with the right know-how and skill sets can actually create worlds for other players to visit. These can range anywhere from:


  1. Aesthetic worlds with gorgeous scenery

  2. Game worlds where you can play card games, race cars, or even do an escape room

  3. Party worlds for live music and DJ’s to mix and dance to

  4. Movie & TV show world where you can feel like you’re in a real movie theater

  5. Horror worlds for those that like a spooky element

  6. And so much more


There is no shortage of incredible experiences to be had in VRChat, but there’s also another side to the coin – one of danger.


VRChat: The Negatives

Unsupervised Children


When you’re talking about the internet in any form, there’s always cause for concern. Unfortunately, in a world where anything is possible, this is even more so true.


To begin, the game is intended for those 13 years old and up. This in and of itself is a huge red flag.


Because of this lax restriction, many children enter the virtual world with little to no supervision, which can lead to extremely dangerous situations of sexual harassment from pedophiles and other bullying situations.


The children that roam the game also do so of their own accord and continuously cause trouble for the rest of the population, running around and screaming, showing nudity on their avatars, and so on and so forth.


*Let it be known that VRChat does have community rules and guidelines that explicitly say no nudity is allowed within public worlds (worlds which anyone can go). If this is witnessed, it can be reported and the user will be suspended or banned. Although, it’s still quite unnerving and gross to be present to.


Sexual Harassment


Aside from the children, some adults also run into issues with others on the platform, especially in the department of sexual harassment. Although no real harm can come to the majority of players (because it’s all virtual), it’s still psychologically damaging and can be frightening to some.


This is all too common in the club scene. The majority of clubs and groups moderate their worlds while in use to ensure safety and comfort for visitors, but it doesn’t stop everything.


Vile humans do vile things, and while you can block and mute someone that is harassing you, you can’t necessarily undo the damage.


Drinking & Drugs


Specifically in the party scene, it’s very common to see alcohol and various illegal substances being imbibed in on a regular basis.


Pretty much any night of the week, you can find a party to get trashed at. Granted, there is nothing wrong with having a good time – we won’t fault you for that. But, it can definitely play a hand in causing addictions and bad behaviors.


Escapism


Lastly, the virtual world can be extremely enticing. With this comes a natural desire to spend more and more time inside of your headset.


To some, it is a casual friday night game to play. For others, it consumes their lives, where their real life takes the back seat and the virtual life steals the wheel.


From sleeping in VR on a regular basis to partying all night, ignoring real world responsibilities, and shutting yourself off from the outside world are all concerns to be addressed (although not inherently bad on occasion).


VRChat: Is It Worth It?


Ultimately, that decision is up to you – but we would dare say “YES!”


The positives for many far outweigh the negatives, and there are several ways to protect yourself from the other unfortunate circumstances.


VRChat does allow for specific safety settings so you can see and hear who you want, and nobody else. Also, as mentioned earlier, there are simple ways to host private instances where only those you know can join, allowing you a safe, fun, and thrilling time in your headset.


No Headset? No Problem!


The fun doesn’t have to start and stop with a virtual headset. Part of the fun of VRChat is that it’s accessible to anyone with a computer (and soon an iPhone or Android device).


This continues to allow you to expand your social circles, have fun, and maybe one day migrate into VR.


Final Thoughts


VRChat opens a world of opportunities – all you have to do is log in. Travel the metaverse safely, take photos, and enjoy memories that will last a lifetime.


Be safe, guard yourself, and buckle in for a wild ride. See you there!


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