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Long-running virtual worlds such as Second Life attract users from all around the world. (The Second Life website itself is available in English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish and Russian.)
Every so often, I like to load up Second Life, do a keyword search for a country or language name (e.g. Turkey, Turkiye, Turkish), and head off on an adventure! Often I find a nightclub where people are chatting away in a language I do not speak, where I can spend an enjoyable hour listening to the popular music of a completely different culture.
The fact that most communication in Second Life uses text chat is actually an advantage here. Automatic translator software (such as this popular item on the SL Marketplace, which works with Google Translate) can be used to bridge the language gap between users chatting in Second Life who don’t speak the same language.
But what about other social VR/virtual worlds? I decided to do some metaverse exploring this evening, just to see what’s out there.
VRChat, with its thousands of users from all around the world, is a natural place to begin my explorations. There are many Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, German, and Thai worlds to visit. (These links are from a Japanese directory called The World of VRChat, a website directory for VRChat worlds. The website is in Japanese, but if you turn on Google auto-translate, it works well, and can be used as a handy guide.)
Of course, you can also perform a keyword search on the Worlds menu (e.g. Japan, Japanese) to pull up VRChat worlds. For example, there are dozens and dozens of Japanese-themed worlds to visit and explore!
The best way to explore is to use the Sansar Atlas website, where you can do a keyword search for a language or country name (e.g. Germany, Deutschland, German, Deutsch). Unfortunately, the chances of you running into other people this way in Sansar are pretty slim.
Of course, High Fidelity was home to the well-known Mexico domain, which was one of HiFi’s domains that were shut down when the company pivoted to business use. And the search function in the tablet UI only pulls up matches on domain name, which somewhat hinders the ability to explore (you pretty much need to know the domain name to find anything). It would be very useful if High Fidelity were to add searchable domain descriptions to the social VR platform, but I’m sure the company is occupied with other, much more pressing, matters at the moment.
As far as I can tell, there is not yet a lot of multicultural content in places like AltspaceVR, Rec Room, or in Sinespace. But it’s still early days. Eventually, as most virtual worlds mature, they will attract more users from foreign countries, who will naturally import their own cultures.
Do you have any tips on cultural experiences in virtual worlds, a spot you would like to share with us? Please feel free to leave a comment below, or even better, join us on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server and share your tips there! We’d love to have you.