One Thing That VRChat Really Needs: Better Directories of Publicly-Accessible Worlds

Since I have upgraded my Oculus Rift to a Valve Index, I have been spending more and more time in VRChat lately. VRChat in 2021 reminds me of nothing so much as Second Life circa 2007, when I first joined: the sense of exploration and adventure, never quite knowing where you were going to land up and who you would meet!

However, there is still one problem that I encounter in VRChat, and that is the topic for today’s blogpost: the need to set up a better in-world directory of worlds to explore. I have written about this topic before, but the need has now become acute. Finding cool worlds in VRChat has become something of a crapshoot, a time-consuming, trial-and-error process.

How many VRChat worlds are there? VRChat is surprisingly tight-lipped about world statistics. The VRChat website still says “Over 25,000 Community Created Worlds and Growing”, but this December 2018 promotional video says “Over 50,000 User-Created Worlds”:

So I asked around within my network of contacts for some updated statistics, and learned that there are now over 55,000 publicly-accessible VRChat worlds (not to mention countless private, invite-only worlds). My source tells me:

55,000 public worlds. 10 times more that are private, probably…

[I] asked someone in the prefab community who [is] very much tied with VRChat developers. A FPS said that very confidently. I can try to ask them where there is an actual figure count.

They told me: “Try to access on, you can see total public world as number. 55,458 public world has been updated so far. (include one already deleted.)” But thats still an unofficial number.

Another quote: “I think the unofficial number is something like 55k but remember how many of them have been abandoned on older SDK updates to the point they might not even be useable anymore. I wonder how far back you can go before it starts not working correctly. Source is at 20 worlds a page, 2779 pages, for a total of 55580. Although that site does list deleted worlds as well, also if they uploaded duplicates”

This is actually a very clever way to estimate the number of public VRChat worlds! However, the fact that we are relying on a third-party directory for this information simply underlines the problem that VRChat users face: it’s still too difficult to look for a particular kind or category of world.

Right now, the only way to find a world is to do a keyword search under Worlds in the pop-up menu, which matches on words in the world’s name, plus any tags which the creator adds to the description. What VRChat needs to do is set up something along the lines of the Second Life Destination Guide, a curated directory of worlds by category and purpose:

The Second Life Destination Guide (see the list of categories on the left-hand side?) VRChat desperately needs something like this.

Now, VRChat is not the only social VR platform with this problem; it is common to all social VR worlds, and different platforms tackle this problem with varying degrees of success. Right now, everything relies too much on word of mouth, which can be hard if you’re not in the loop!

Now that 2021 is the year where the monthly active users (MAU) stats for Rec Room and VRChat begin to consistently surpass that of venerable Second Life, perhaps it’s time that these and other social VR companies invest in creating curated directories (and no, don’t just rely on volunteers, hire and pay staff to do the work). Think of it as a necessary investment. It could be the start of a virtuous circle, where better directories lead to more traffic to excellent or unique worlds, leading in turn to more and better directories!

Something to think about. Also something to think about: how about some destination guides or curated directories of private VRChat worlds? 😉

Editorial: The Need for Greater Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Virtual Reality and Social VR

We need grater equity, diversity, and inclusion in the VR marketplace, just as we do in wider society. Part of that is listening to BiPOC, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ people’s stories, and admitting that we are part of the problem.
(photo by Michael Efemena on Unsplash)

Sigh…it’s 3:00 a.m. and, once again, I cannot sleep. I swear, this pernicious insomnia is gonna kill me sooner than COVID-19 will…

Finally, I give up, drag my raggedy gay ass out of bed, go lie on the sofa, and open up Twitter on my iPhone (exactly not the thing to do when you are trying to fall asleep again!), just in time to receive the following tweet from teacher and educational VR developer Kai Frazier, in response to my first attempt to draw up a list 25 people working in social VR. virtual worlds, and the metaverse whom you should be following:

I mean this with all due respect— This isn’t good enough, respectfully. VR deserves more. It’s not enough to admit this list is EXTREMELY white—we need action. How can we further diversify VR? Could you have reached out to BiPOC folks when you realized they were “missing”?

In going back over my original list of 25 people, only three of them (Wagner James Au, Strawberry Singh, and Casandra Vuong) are non-white. And yes, I do agree; it’s not good enough just to admit that a list of people whom you want to promote is too white; you need to actively work against a system and a culture that discriminates against BiPOC people and other minorities. And, as a cisgendered queer white male, I can and must do better.

So, in my response to Kai on Twitter I said:

Yes I agree. As I have said, I admit that I need to work harder to expand my social networks in VR beyond my own queer white voice. Everybody has to start somewhere, and this is my first attempt at such a list. Thanks for your comments. The next list will be better!

One thing I can do I learn more about BiPOC people working in VR such as yourself. You up for an interview for my blog on social VR? It’s only a hobby blog with a little over 1,000 views per day, but I’d be happy to use my little soap box to help get the word out! Let me know.

Kai’s profile page from the KaiXR website

I have now followed Kai on Twitter and LinkedIn, and hopefully, soon I can publish a brief interview with her on my blog! As I said, I only get a bit over 1,000 views per day on my blog, but I am happy to use my little soapbox to get the word out about the need for greater equity, diversity, and inclusion in virtual reality in general, and in social VR in particular. Let’s move the conversation forward, and take action!

Photo by Hammer & Tusk on Unsplash

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Bags, Bags, Bags!

Have you joined the Steals, Deals & Freebies group yet? I will be posting EVEN MORE news and tips on finding fabulous freebies and bargains in Second Life than I post here on the blog! More information on this brand new SL group here.

Now, I do not usually blog about avatar accessories in Second Life, but I recently came across a couple of nice group gifts which I wanted to share with you. Remember, that I am only blogging about a very small fraction of what I find on my travels around the grid! For everything I find, please join the Steals, Deals, and Freebies group in Second Life (please see the notice in red above for details). The group costs L$50 to join, but you’ll easily save multiple times that, from all the tips, tricks, tactics, and advice being shared within the group! We’re already at well over 40 members, and I can now call myself a professional freebie fashionista (and you can wear that tag with pride, too!).

Now, I should tell you that I am not a fan of bags without high-quality, Bento animations built in—high priority animations which do not break when I use them with the stands and walks in my animation overrides! Happily, both of the bags I tell you about here meet that stringent requirement.

First up is a free group gift from Vive Nine/Ryvolter. of a very versatile purse which comes in open and closed versions, in two designs, and with a wide variety of Bento hold animations, as you will see! Just teleport to the Vive Nine store, hit the small panel shown below to subscribe to the free group, and then hit the bigger panel to pick up your gift:

The best thing about this bag is the absolutely wonderful variety of hold animations, as you can see! There’s also a HUD to change the texture of the scarf wrapped around the handle of the bag (or remove it completely), and have it closed, or open with wads of cash sticking out 😉 ; please click on each thumbnail to see a larger version of the pictures.

Again, these are are high-prioity animations that should work very well with your standard AO.

If you are in the mood for some luxe shopping bags to finish off your fashionista emsemble, you can pick up a set of three as a free group gift from Sibilla. Just join the group for free (there’s a red group join panel on your right as you enter), and click on the panel located in the centre of the store, as shown below:

The shopping bags come in two holdable versions (wrist and hand), as well as an editable, rezzable version for decor (say, in the corner of your bedroom):

There you go! You’re all set to rampage your next virtual shopping mall in high style!

This avatar is also wearing:

  • Mesh Head and Body, and Pumps: the Maitreya Lara-compatible Ariadna mesh body by Kalhene, which I was lucky enough to pick up for free before they switched to the paid-for Anya version (more information about the Kalhene Anya body here, which I still think is a great bargain compared to Maitreya Lara).
  • Skin: Zara Bakes on Mesh skin in the sandy skin tone (a recent free gift from Wow Skins)
  • Hair: Jamie unisex hair by Firelight! (a recent free gift from the Firestorm arena)
  • Hat: Hex hat by Moon Elixir (a free hunt prize I picked up years ago; you can pick up a fatpack of six colours for L$100 in-store).
  • Jacket: from the free Kendal outfit at Juli Fashion; just join the group for free and scoop up nearly sixty free gifts of womenswear!
  • Skirt: Black pencil skirt from the Roxy outfit (a free gift from a store called Chaotic; just look for the store vendor with the FREE sign above it (exact SLURL) and pay the vendor L$1 for dozens and dozens of gifts of of women’s outfits and Slink footwear; no group is needed, and your Linden dollar will be automatically refunded).

TOTAL COST OF THIS ENTIRE LOOK: FREE! (L$1,895 if you have to buy the Kalhene Anya body and the Hex Hat fatpack from Moon Elixir.)

Happy freebie shopping!

UPDATED: Second Life Founder and High Fidelity CEO Philip Rosedale Will Do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit on February 23rd, 2021

Philip shared the following photo when posting about his Reddit AMA on Twitter (source)

Mark your calendars! Philip tweeted late tonight:

Join me for a Reddit AMA on Feb. 23rd from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Ask me about Spatial Audio, VR, virtual worlds and virtual economies, avatars, and … anything.

So if you have any burning questions you’ve wanted to ask Philip, this is your perfect opportunity! When the AMA starts tomorrow, I will link to it here.

See you there!

UPDATE Feb. 23rd, 2021, 3:51 p.m.: Please accept my apoliogies for not linking to this AMA sooner; I was so tired that I lay down for a nap and landed up sleeping through the entire event!

Here’s the link to the Ask Me Anything posted to the r/IAmA subReddit, with the following introduction posted, plus the above photo as proof that he is, indeed, THE Philip Rosedale!

Hi Reddit!

I am the founder of the virtual civilization Second Life, populated by one million active users, and am now CEO and co-founder of High Fidelity — which has just released a real-time spatial audio API for apps, games, and websites. If you want to check it out, I’d love to hear what you think:

High Fidelity’s Spatial Audio was initially built for our VR platform — we have been obsessive about audio quality from day one, spending our resources lowering latency and nailing spatialization.

Ask me about immersive spatial audio, VR, virtual worlds and spaces, avatars, and … anything.

(With me today I have /u/MaiaHighFidelity and /u/Valefox to answer technical questions about the API, too.)

This AMA has also been reposted the the r/secondlife, r//HighFidelity, r/WebRTC. and r/GameAudio subReddits.

UPDATE 4:26 p.m.: I have been informed that the AMA is still going on, as of this writing!