A Humorous Story of Fail in VR Chat | by Leigh Fisher | Socializing within the Oasis | Mar, 2021
To refine my social calendar of digital life this week, I made my way to VR chat last Sunday. I was pretty surprised at how big some of these VR social platforms have already grown.
With beauty and grace on my side, I dipped a toe in VR Chat for my digital social engagement of the week. The platform has a surprisingly large user base, so it seemed like an interesting place to dive a little deeper into VR interaction. I picked an avatar from the odd box with headshots from odd, random options. I went for an anime style girl with sci-fi inspired clothes.
See, my graceful avatar! Just ignore the fact that she is crawling on the floor and cutting out her head.
I went into a room that I thought would include avatars selection in hopes of adjusting something before trying to meet up with my classmates. I ended up in a strange hall-like room. I assumed I was alone and had some time to tinker with the settings before interacting with anyone.
But also social awkwardness.
As it turned out, I wasn’t alone! My avatar got stuck a bit near a wall and I didn’t even see other avatars materialize in the room for the first few minutes of navigating the menus trying to put my avatar in the sitting mode instead of the standing configuration.
Within minutes of my avatar crawling on the floor, a couple of strangers came up to me. One waved very politely and another seemed like they were starting to type something. My social awkwardness came with vengeance and I kind of ducked out.
Social calendars certainly look different these days, right?
Another developed social awkwardness and I withdrew from the room. When I told my very stoic partner how I suddenly ducked, he burst out laughing at how I still manage to be as awkward in the digital world as I am in the real world.
Even though I imagine this stranger meant well, I just felt a bit too silly for this person to struggle with the UI and crawl on the floor. Although VR Chat is a platform that allows for a good level of anonymity, it is so strange for me to interact online in contexts that I am so unfamiliar with.
Growing up with plain text chat and very basic emojis in a city where bandwidth requirements made video calling impossible, it’s hard to imagine interacting with people in a much more human context. In VR, you can walk up to people, wave at them, and so on. It’s really exciting – and I want to get the hang of it to properly examine this – and so fascinating to think about how far online interaction has come in the last decade.