AltspaceVR to Launch on the Oculus Quest on Sept. 12th

It looks as though AltspaceVR will be the next social VR platform available to Oculus Quest users, joining Bigscreen, Dance Central, Rec Room, and VRChat. (You can already install AltspaceVR using SideQuest, but this is the official announcement that the AltspaceVR app will be available via the Oculus Store for the Quest.)

Given that AltspaceVR already runs on a variety of platforms (including an Android mobile app), this news hardly comes as a surprise. AltspaceVR’s cartoony, low-poly avatars in particular make it easy to port the platform to a wide variety of existing hardware, including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and cellphone-based VR like the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream. It also runs on the Oculus Go, so running on the Quest should not be a problem.

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LGBTQ Spaces in Social VR and Virtual Worlds

Photo by Tristan Billet on Unsplash

The real world can still be a unwelcoming place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) people. So perhaps it is not surprising that LGBTQ people are attracted to social VR and virtual worlds, as a way to connect with other queer people and create queer spaces. (Please note that, as a proud and out-of-the-closet gay man, I am reclaiming the formerly pejorative term queer in referring to LGBTQ people.)

Second Life

Second Life is home to dozens of LGBTQ-friendly places, including the popular Lesbian Teahouse and the five-sim Boystown Gay Community. Every year there’s a massive virtual Pride festival. There’s even a sprawling, ten-sim ancient Roman roleplay community Romanum for gay and bisexual men! You can also pay a visit the Transgender Resource Center and the Transgender Hate Crime and Suicide Memorial.

Linden Lab maintains a listing of LGBT friendly places in SL, and even a special LGBTQ landing page for visitors:

AltspaceVR

LGBTQ+ and Friends Meetup in AltspaceVR

There are two regular weekly LGBTQ+ and Friends meetups which take place in AltspaceVR:

Come join our global LGBTQ weekly meetup that offers support, encouragement, and love from all corners of the world. Join our North American meetup at: (6:00 p.m. Pacific). If you are sending your love abroad, join us at our earlier time (1:00 p.m. Pacific). We have created this safe haven where you can express yourself in a welcoming environment. We have created this space for those who have difficulty sharing their thoughts and experiences. Feel bold enough to share your stories and we will do our part to give you the encouragement you need to live the life you have always dreamed.

Here’s a link to the current events calendar in AltspaceVR, so you can find out when the next meetup is taking place.

VRChat

VRChat has an active LGBTQ community that runs its own Discord server, where you can find out about happenings and events in-world.


Have you heard of other LGBTQ-friendly spaces and events happening in other social VR platforms and virtual worlds? If you do, then please leave a comment below telling us where and what it is, thank you!

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

UPDATED! Tech Tock with Jesse Damiani: A New Weekly Talk Show in AltspaceVR

This week saw the launch of a new weekly talk show, set on the social VR platform of AltspaceVR, which I must confess I haven’t written much about lately on this blog.

Jesse Damiani is an emerging technology journalist for such publications as Forbes, and an editor-at-large for the VRScout website. Last Monday was the first episode of his brand new talk show, called Tech Tock. Jesse describes the show thusly:

Tech Tock is a weekly talk show about the future. Through intimate conversations with entrepreneurs, developers, and artists, we’ll peer into the world technology is creating—and have some fun with the people creating it.

As his first guest, Jesse invited the author Blake J. Harris to discuss his latest book, titled The History of The Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality (which I am currently reading, and I can recommend highly).

I arrived in AltspaceVR with about half an hour to kill before the show, so I attended an AltspaceVR 101 session hosted by the company to orient newcomers. At the end of the training session, the hosts opened up the floor to questions, and I asked my one burning question: was AltspaceVR ever planning to upgrade their extremely low-poly, cartoon-like avatars?

Unfortunately, the answer was “no”, but the person who answered the question old me that AltspaceVR was looking at the possibility of allowing custom-made avatars sometime in the future, as many other platforms have done (VRChat, High Fidelity, and Sansar).

Although I am not a fan of their cartoony avatars, one area where AltspaceVR really shines is in their event programming. AltspaceVR is probably the social VR platform with the most events scheduled every week, as even a brief glance at their upcoming events listings can attest:

There’s something for everyone in their events listing, which of course is one of the reasons for their success as a platform. Another strong point is the fact that they pretty much support any VR hardware you have, from cellphone-based VR to high-end systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive—even the Leap Motion headset!

Next Monday, Jesse will have as a guest Nancy Baker Cahill, a multi-disciplinary artist and founder of 4th Wall, a free Augmented Reality (AR) app which invites viewers to place art in 360 degrees anywhere in the world. Her recent work in Desert X has been profiled in the LA Times and The Wall Street Journal.

UPDATE March 9th: Lorelle says in a comment to this post:

The AltspaceVR 101 is not produced by staff but by volunteers, as should have been explained during the event. So it is likely the person answering your question didn’t know the answer. The answer is complex. AltspaceVR works hard to stay an agnostic platform, enabling both mobile and tethered access, which few social VR platforms offer, thus less cartoony avatars are coming as devices improve. As are improvements in world building and environments. Stay tuned, and consider volunteering yourself to help with the 101 events.

I stand corrected; thank you, Lorelle!

An Updated Comparison Chart of the Twelve Most Popular Social VR Platforms

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I decided to update my original comparison chart of the 12 most popular social VR platforms, according to my reader survey. Note that in this chart, I excluded platforms that did not have VR support (e.g. Second Life, OpenSim-based virtual worlds, etc.).

I also did not dwell on technical details, such as the underlying game engine, user creation tools, etc. Instead, I focused on the three things of most interest to consumers:

  • How you can access the platform;
  • What options do you have for your avatar;
  • And whether you can go shopping!

This print on this chart is a little small to show up on the constrained width of this blogpost, so I saved it as a picture to FlickrJust click on the chart below (or the link above) to see it in Flickr in a larger size.

Comparison Chart of 12 Social VR Platforms 25 Nov 2018

You can also download this chart from Flickr in any size up to its original size (1488 x 920 pixels).

If you feel I’ve made any mistakes, or left anything important out, please leave me a comment below, thanks! I do hope that people who are trying to figure out which social VR spaces to explore will find this comparison chart to be a useful and handy tool.

UPDATE 2:03 p.m.: I’ve just been informed that there is an Android app for vTime. Thanks for the tip, Stephanie Woessner!