While I still do have a lot of issues with the state of humankind overall, my views on that as such are exacerbated by the lack of ability to go out and socialize and have a more typical baseline about the general populace, who are more likely than not just looking out for themselves having a normal life. Before the eternal isolation, I was going to conventions of various size, sometimes bigger ones at times, and find that I’d end up in conversations here and there with whoever. Keeping in mind that I tend to keep to myself unless I’m talked to or have something to add in a conversation, so finding people with similar interests helps that along.
Aside from the occasional meeting with co-workers, still mostly online, and if not, is a highly regulated company-sponsored outdoors brief meetup, I’ve been sticking to online stuff in general. That part’s hardly different as far as those who would know me under this username. I’m often a lurker in chats but it depends. Maybe just less active. What is different is that I’ve been going in under VRChat, now that I have a VR kit set up with a capable enough computer that gets a whopping average of 45 FPS in VRChat, as far as I’ve been able to measure across various worlds. Granted, it tends to run way better in games that aren’t made of user-generated content in a variety of optimizations or lack thereof, but it gets the job done. If GPU prices get reasonable enough, I might get a graphics upgrade down the line, and hopefully not also have to deal with replacing the power supply in case it’s a behemoth, but that part would still probably be cheaper.
VRChat is interesting. It’s a buggy virtual world client (honestly redundant to call any virtual world client buggy from what I’ve seen) that allows anyone running Windows or some kind of Oculus Quest thing to go do things. VR isn’t even needed on Windows versions. Ideally there’d also be Mac and Linux but actual VR support seems to vary wildly for those in general. It’s also mostly made up of user-generated content outside of whatever the core developer teams did for starters and examples, which is pretty key to any kind of virtual world platform. It also uses an existing game engine so that building that content is at least a bit more accessible to those willing to figure it out. In my testing in building an avatar, I didn’t need to open any code editors, just state machine stuff. Worlds probably can involve a bit of scripting, though. Fortunately I’m a developer who knows Unity, so I at least have that to start with. Also more motivation to learn specific aspects of developing game content, including modeling and possibly animation.
Whenever I’m actually playing VRChat, though, I’ve often just wandered around busy worlds, seeing what people are doing, namely things other than equipping memetic noise avatars to annoy everyone whether or not they’re trying to get footage for some YouTube channel. Also possibly things other than looking in mirrors all day. From my observations, most avatars that aren’t starters or memes tend to be either anime style or furry. I’m not surprised at that, but it also leans heavily toward the anime on most public places I’ve been to that cater to a variety. Of course instances of furry-focused worlds are likely going to be about 90% populated by those in the target demographic avatars. Again, not surprised, including the instances of those who wander in just to yell at the furries for being as such. It’s the internet, after all.
I’m also often on the lookout for interesting avatars to use for various reasons. Being who I am, I usually look for robots. There aren’t a ton of those that have stood out to me, though, so I just take it as a challenge to do my own things to fill in the gaps. Of course I also look for non-robots, and also not just the wealth of anime designs, or even established characters from existing properties. It’s a variety. Being able to have a slice into a variety of this kind, where people are just making whatever, and it’s not all just porn, shows some interesting things. Of course someone ported Doom, and there’s some portal gun demo as well, in addition to all the grappling hook stuff.
I’ve been into looking into any games that focus on user-generated content, including Dreams, which also has VR support with performance that can vary wildly due to the nature of the content. Still interesting that the one console with dedicated VR support turned out to be the PS4, not even the PS5 has it directly yet as it still relies on the PS4 framework to do so. The Switch had that Labo thing but it’s more of a thing like Google Cardboard where it’s more treated as a novelty, in case Nintendo is afraid of dedicating a console to anything like VR ever again given how the Virtual Boy happened. I can’t even seem to get a Virtual Boy emulator to work on my VR setup since it’s not an ancient Oculus headset and there’s some compatibility problem for whatever reason.
Back on the social aspect, VRChat involves the ability to chat. I’m still relatively quiet and don’t always interject into conversations, but am open to them if I can get into them. There’s also the benefit or curse of having physics objects around to mess with, as VR experiences seem to focus around physics in things. Provided that’s not too distracting, I can carry on a conversation as such. Also, if there’s a world that focuses around a certain activity I can get into often enough and possibly spot return visitors while I become one myself, it’s another way to build groups. A bit of socializing by doing rather than talking. It has been interesting. This is also coming from someone who generally despises social media, while any online platform will have its unsavory types, I think even this long distance virtual polygonal avatar interaction field feels more like socializing than numerical gratification for random posts that might share ideas that could contribute further to societal collapse.
My interest, and likely that of a lot of other people getting into VR now, is probably related to wanderlust. The social aspects are a bonus for any games that support it. I’d certainly like to go places more in physical reality, but that’s not happening for a few years. I just have some time to save up for tickets to things and ideally not have the entirety of civilization come to an end before I get around to doing that. If that happens anyway, maybe I’d get lucky and find a working vehicle to check out other modern ruins in search of fun souvenirs that hopefully aren’t contaminated by plague or radiation.