Given the response it has provoked, I have deleted my original blogpost, My List of 25 People in Social VR, Virtual Worlds, and the Metaverse Whom You Should Be Following (Plus a Few Alternates!).
I apologize to anyone who found my description of that list, or the entire blogpost, offensive. I am heartsick and very depressed about what has happened over the past 3-4 days, and I would like to apologize for my role in it. As Kai had said, it was “a learning experience”. Please STOP attacking each other over it.
I admit that I have wandered into the whole race relations issue like a deer into the headlights, and hoping to turn the episode into a discussion on the need for equity, diversity, and inclusion in VR/social VR was a mistake. Please accept my apologies for my ignorance.
I do not expect or rquire anybody to accept my apology, but I do expect all of you in my social media circle(s) to treat each other with kindness, courtesy, empathy, and respect instead of attacking each other, please. I want no more fighting over this!
The RyanSchultz.com blog will be closed for an indefinite period. Given my past history of starts and stops over the past 3-1/2 years, I will probably be back at some point. But between the Winnipeg winter, the pandemic, and multiple other stressors, I have been stretched to the breaking point—and today I finally broke. Badly.
I just need to go away and heal for a while. It is now likely that I will have to take some extended sick time from my paying job with the University of Manitoba Libraries. The only thing that I have planned is to sit down for a chat with Kent Bye for his Voices of VR podcast in early March; other than that, I will be staying off Twitter, Reddit, and Discord, not blogging, and not checking my email. Please note that I have turned off the ability to leave comments on all my blogposts. You may have things you want to say to me, but I’m not really in a place to hear them. I’m sorry. I am in tears as I write this. Things are not going well.
My clinical depression, which I have struggled with for most of my teenage and adult life, is slowly getting worse again, but I am getting treatment and I am taking care of myself as best I can.
UPDATE Feb. 25th, 10:11 p,m. The following thread of 5 tweets I pinned to the top of my Twitter profile this evening, I will be taking an extended break from Twitter.
1/4 Everybody is asking me what happened yesterday and if I am OK. I don’t know if my explaining what happened yesterday is going to help. No, I am not OK.
3/5 Christina Kinne (a.k.a XaosPrincess) gave a summary of what happened next: “Political Correctness backfired in the most cruel way on Ryan. He put up this list of 25 social VR people he follows, but he mentioned only a couple of POC folks in this…”
4/5 Xaos: “Therefore he got attacked from the left and the right, and even though he made big amends (expanding the list, inviting the lady who legitimately criticized him for an interview on inclusion), the attacks got viral & someone even told him to “walk directly into the sea”
5/5 Kaos “As much as I love PC for its original intent to change the social narrative in terms of equal rights & representation for everyone, as paradox it gets imo if someone (who has always been transparent about his issues with depression) is prompted to kill themselves.”
End. As a result, I will no longer be cross-posting my blog posts to my Twitter. I am also taking an extended break from all social media as of this evening (Twitter, Reddit, Discord), and taking a break from blogging.
Launching officially today, Wednesday, February 24th, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, Wolf3D‘s Ready Player Me avatar maker now supports importing avatars into the popular VRChat platform!
VRChat integration was always among the most requested features from the users of Ready Player Me. The avatar creator allows for generating a 3D avatar based on a single selfie. Users can select from 200 customization options, including outfits, hairstyles, and tattoos. Wolf3D set as a goal to bring the same set of personalization and customization options to their VRChat avatar creator.
Starting today, the VRChat community can create personal 3D avatars based on a selfie and use them in VRChat on both PC and Oculus Quest versions of the game. Ready Player Me avatars are compatible with AV3, allowing players to use the platform’s new expressions system.
For many, creating an avatar in VRChat is both a daunting and very important task. We’re excited to work with Wolf3D to help make avatar creation easier and more accessible for everyone in the VRChat universe!
—Graham Gaylor, Co-Founder & CEO of VRChat
Like full-body Ready Player Me avatars, all users need to do is upload a selfie. The company’s machine learning algorithm (based on 20,000 high-resolution facial scans) will generate a 3D model based on the photo. It’s possible to skip this step and go directly to the avatar maker if the user doesn’t want to share their photo.
Here’s a brief video on how to create an avatar using Ready Player Me:
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 wonderful sense of exploration and adventure, never quite knowing where you were going to land up and who you would encounter!
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 vrcw.net, 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 https://en.vrcw.net/world 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:
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? 😉