I did not make this video:
VRChat is true to the original Snowcrash vision of the Metaverse. It’s a bring-your-own multi user chat space where avatars, code, assets, and shaders can all be imported by individual users, and everything is customizable. You can make your avatar whatever you want it to be with whatever models, textures, and shaders you want. You can build whole rooms that other can explore and hang out with you in, again with whatever Unity/C#/assets/textures you can think of.
The emphasis on the video on customizability of one’s avatar seems critical, and also just super fun. It’s fun to wear fun clothes that you like, that feel true to you, and having an avatar is the maximized version of that, where your entire form is an elaborate masquerade costume completely up to what makes you feel good.
Why does the interviewed guy at the end say it feels like the “beginning” of the internet, what did the internet lose that this online space is able to tap in to?
Throughout the video CN touches on the open-ness of it, the way it feels like the early, pre-corporate internet. What happens when the big players come in? Is the hardware going to get locked down? Is the entire concept going to be limited or somehow purged from the system (ie banning this one app)?
In the last few years there’s been a wave of energy of returning some of that magic of the early web, in the form of the fediverse and indieweb projects and related projects like spaghetti directory. People are tired of supercorps making all the rules of online engagement. The people who make web3 and VRchat interesting are the people who are the most tired of Facebook and Instagram.
I’m pretty scared of Facebook’s ability to ruin all the fun. Zuck has really terrible opinions on the idea of online identity. Specifically, pseudonyms are illegal in the Zuck empire. This is the big misstep. People like being able to have pseuds, and there’s more value and richness to pseudonymity than just the downsides of spam. It’s good to be able to have an online identity that is not your meatspace identity. The magic of online avatars is wrapped up in being able to choose which aspects of yourself you present, rather than being locked into a decision by the platform.
With Meta, and as the biggest megacorp investor in the space, does Zuck’s half-baked ideology get to break this part of the internet? Or will Meta and companies making new VR tech allow this just to get better and better, with better technology improving FoV and resolution and compute and pose estimation and immersion? VRChat does already exist by Facebook’s good graces. Maybe they’ll just kill it once Meta drops it’s hot new thing.
Most likely, it’ll coexist with whatever FB produces, the official Horizon app will be more like google docs–work focused, the way you talk to your parents, and so on. And VRChat will be a place for friends.
At any rate, the ‘chaotic good’ energy being harnessed in VRChat is really exciting, and I think will continue to get more developed and broader over time. Really really excited to see where this goes.