Analysis: given endemic online toxicity, it is hard to see how VR worlds can be made pleasant and safe
- UK data watchdog seeks talks with Meta over child protection concerns
Until 2019, virtual reality was an absolute faff to use. It was expensive and tethered by cables to expensive PCs, but the wireless and easy-to-use Oculus Quest has changed that. Once the headset is on you can browse from a few hundred apps and games designed for VR, many of which are social spaces designed for chatting to other people. VRChat is one of several, and the most popular, partly because it is intriguingly wild and random.
Some VR spaces – including Meta’s Horizon – attempt a kind of calming, sanitised, futuristic look, with soft colours and cartoonish humanoids. VRChat is a total mishmash, dominated by anime aesthetics: neon cities, cat ears, big-busted, scantily clad 2D women, and of course furries (that’s sexualised anthropomorphic cartoon animals, for anyone fortunate enough not to know).