|Genre(s)||Massively multiplayer online|
VRChat is an upcoming free-to-play massively multiplayer online virtual reality video game created by Graham Gaylor and Jesse Joudrey. It allows players to interact with others as 3D character models. The game was released for Microsoft Windows via Steam's early access program on February 1, 2017. It supports the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality headsets, though none of them are mandatory to play.
VRChat's gameplay is similar to that of games such as Second Life and Habbo Hotel. Players can create their own instanced worlds in which they can interact with each other through virtual avatars. A software development kit released alongside the game gives players the ability to create or import character models from various franchises and adopt them as their personas. Player models are capable of supporting "audio lip sync, eye tracking and blinking, and complete range of motion It also includes several minigames in which players can "Capture the Flag, rob a bank in Steel 'n' Gold, and lob digital discs at each other in a match of Battle Discs."
Although the game was named "VRChat", it is not necessary to have VR equipment to play the game. The game also offers a desktop version for those who don't have VR headsets, but it has limitations such as the inability to freely move an avatar.
The game's popularity has been attributed to use by YouTubers and Twitch streamers. VRChat has spawned media such as a weekly newspaper in its forums, and talk shows and podcasts dedicated to a discussion of the game.
In popular culture
It has given rise to a meme known as "Ugandan Knuckles", in which players use in-game models of Knuckles the Echidna from the Sonic The Hedgehog series while repeating the catchphrase "Do you know the way?" in an African accent. The players' model and mannerisms originated in a review by YouTuber Gregzilla and Forsen's Twitch stream respectively, in addition to lines from the Ugandan movie Who Killed Captain Alex? This has generated controversy from many sources; Polygon's Julia Alexander labelled it "blatantly racist" and a "problematic meme", comparing it to Habbo Hotel raids, and Jay Hathaway of The Daily Dot called it a "racist caricature". The creator of the 3D model used in the meme expressed regret for having made it, and urged players that they "do not use this to bug the users of VRChat." In response, the developers of the game published an open letter on Medium, stating that they were developing "new systems to allow the community to better self moderate" and asking users to use the built-in muting features.
- AltspaceVR – provided meeting spaces in virtual reality using Microsoft's Kinect
- Sansar (video game) – social virtual reality platform with a near-identical premise
- Alexander, Julia (December 22, 2017). "VRChat is a bizarre phenomenon that has Twitch, YouTube obsessed". Polygon. Vox Media, Inc. Archived from the original on January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
- Forrest, Derek (February 1, 2017). "'VRChat' Is A Social Platform, A Dev Sandbox, And A Step In The Right Direction". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
- Jecks, Chris (January 8, 2018). "VRChat: Do You Need a VR Headset to Play?". Twinfinite. Archived from the original on February 24, 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- MacGregor, Collin (January 9, 2018). "Controversial 'Ugandan Knuckles' Meme Has Infested VRChat". Heavy.com. Archived from the original on January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
- Hathaway, Jay (January 10, 2018). "How Ugandan Knuckles turned VRChat into a total trollfest". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on January 14, 2018. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
- Alexander, Julia (January 8, 2018). "'Ugandan Knuckles' is overtaking VRChat". Polygon. Vox Media, Inc. Archived from the original on January 8, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
- Tamburro, Paul (January 8, 2018). "Creator of VRChat's 'Ugandan Knuckles' Meme Regrets His Decision". GameRevolution. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
- Alexander, Julia (January 10, 2018). "VRChat team speaks up on player harassment in open letter". Polygon. Archived from the original on January 11, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
- Wilde, Tyler (January 10, 2018). "VRChat's surge in popularity has created a bizarre scene". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on January 12, 2018. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
Second Life developer Linden Lab has been working on a similar concept, called Sansar, Microsoft now has the reins of Altspace, and there are surely many other sandbox-y VR social experiences in the works.