Syrmor Takes a Look at the Hard-of-Hearing and Deaf Community in VRChat and Their Own Version of Sign Language Used to Communicate In-World

Still image taken from the first video below

Syrmor, whom I have blogged about before, is well-known for his YouTube video interviews with various people in VRChat.

Yesterday, he released a new video about the hard-of-hearing/deaf/Deaf community in VRChat (abbreviated to d/Deaf/HoH). For those of you who are not aware, a distinction is made between lowercase-d deaf, which refers to the medical condition of hearing loss, and capital-D Deaf, which is the term used to refer to the culture, society, and language of Deaf people, which is based on Sign language. (Deaf is capitalized just as American or Canadian would be, since it is a unique culture.)

And yes, there is a version of Sign language (capital S, because like English and French, it is considered a proper language) used in VRChat! Actually, there are several versions: one for users of the Valve Index hand controllers, which allow for individual finger movements, and another is intended for users of hand controllers without individual finger movements.

Here’s a six-minute VRChat Sign language introduction, showing you some common signs:

The video states in a disclaimer:

All signs are based off of American Sign Language, however due to the limitations of VRChat, most of the signs have been changed and/or combined with similar words. Always look up the proper sign before using anything taught here outside the game.

Here is Syrmor’s video, which was posted yesterday, and has already had over 215,000 views as of this morning!

Symor first stumbled across this community when he encountered a Sign language interpreter at an in-world church service (as shown in the video). Through this contact, he discovered a VRChat world called Helping Hands, where you can teach yourself sign language, including some signs which are unique to VRChat (for example, the use of the portal sign to refer to “world” rather than the ASL version of the term).

More information about Helping Hands is in this document, including links to some d/Deaf/HoH VRChat worlds.

Helping Hands Mission and Vision Statement

Syrmor is doing an absolutely inspiring job as an embedded reporter and documentary filmmaker in VRChat, giving people an opportunity to present their stories to the wider world. Syrmor actually earns a living from advertising on his popular YouTube videos (he currently has 697,000 subscribers to his channel) and from his Patreon supporters (here’s a link to his Patreon page if you want to throw some financial support his way). In fact, he was even the focal point of a real-life meetup of his fans in Toronto, Canada, dubbed Syrcon 2019, which people attended from around the world!

Gee, where can I find some groupies? I’d like a convention, too! 😉

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An Updated Comparison Chart of Sixteen Social VR Platforms (Updated and Expanded Draft, November 2019)

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? You’re invited to be a part of the first ever cross-worlds discussion group, with over 300 people participating from every social VR platform and virtual world! More details here


I haven’t published an update to my popular November 2018 comparison chart of twelve social VR platforms for quite some time. There never seems to be a perfect time to update. At first, I wanted to wait until the Oculus Quest was released. And then, I was wondering whether or not I should wait until Facebook releases the Oculus Link update to the Oculus Quest (which means, theoretically, that Oculus Quest users can use a custom cable connected to their VR-ready Windows computer to view content originally intended for the Oculus Rift).

In the end, I decided to go ahead and publish a first draft of the updated comparison chart now, get feedback from my readers, and update the chart as necessary. So here is that first draft.

I removed two of the 12 platforms in last year’s comparison chart: both Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms were shut down by Facebook on October 25th, 2019, in preparation for the launch of Facebook Horizon sometime in 2020. I have not added Facebook Horizon to this chart (yet) because we still know so little about this new social VR platform. And I decided to add six more social VR platforms to the chart: Anyland, Cryptovoxels, Engage, JanusVR, Mozilla Hubs, and NeosVR.

Rather than publish the chart as an image to Flickr, as I did last year, I decided to create a spreadsheet using Google Drive, and publish it to the web here:

Comparison Chart of 16 Social VR Platforms (Updated and Expanded Draft © Ryan Schultz, November 13th, 2019).

Please leave me a comment with any suggestions, corrections or edits, and I will update this new comparison chart accordingly. You can also reach me on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, or any other virtual world Discord that I might belong to (my handle is always the same, RyanSchultz). You can also use the contact form on my blog.

UPDATE 3:48 p.m.: I’ve had a request to add userbase figures to this chart, but I am not going to do that for a very good reason: there’s absolutely no way I can get accurate figures from the various companies, many of whom want to keep that information private. And even ranking them using a scale like low, medium, and high would just be guesses on my part, misleading to a lot of people, and liable to lead to a lot of arguments. Sorry! I will leave it up to you to check Steam statistics for those platforms which are on Steam (which, again, may or may not be an accurate measure of the actual level of usage of any platform).

UPDATE Nov. 13th: I’d like to thank Frooxius (of NeosVR), Artur Sychov (of Somnium Space) and Jin for their corrections and suggestions. Any updates to this table are shown in real-time, which is a unexpected bonus to publishing a spreadsheet directly to the web from Google Drive! I should have thought of doing it this way last year.

And it would appear that there is a great deal of disagreement of what constitutes “in-world building tools”. I am referring to the ability to create complex objects entirely within the platform itself, and not using external tools such as Blender or Unity and then importing the externally-created objects into the platform. For example, High Fidelity has very rudimentary “prim-building” tools in-world, which are not often used by creators, who prefer to import mesh objects created in tools like Blender, Maya, or 3ds Max instead. To give another example, Somnium Space now offers a completely in-world tool for constructing buildings on your purchased virtual land. Sansar has no such tools for in-world building, although you can assemble premade, externally-created objects into a world by using their Scene Editor (which is something completely different from what I am talking about here).

One reader had suggested adding in a few more columns to this chart to include various technical aspects of these social VR platforms: game engine used, open/closed source, support for scripting, etc. Using the table provided to me by Enrico Speranza (a.k.a. Vytek), I have now added three more columns to the original comparison table: architecture/game engine, open/closed source, and scripting. Thank you for the suggestion, Vytek!

Please keep your suggestions, corrections and edits coming, thanks!

UPDATED! VRChat Maps Discord Server: A Directory for Finding Cool Worlds to Explore in VRChat

Stair Hall in VRChat: A procedurally-generated maze of staircases.
Can you reach the prize in the glass cabinet, tantalizingly out of reach?

With over 50,000 user-created worlds, there is just so much to see in VRChat. However, there is no in-world directory, and you have to rely on using keyword search to find worlds to explore, which admittedly is not ideal. What’s really needed is some sort of directory broken down by category (something I am surprised has not been added to VRChat yet).

However, VRChat user CatRazor has created a very useful Discord server called VRChat Maps, which is described as follows:

CatRazor here, I made this place to sort out the maps of VRChat into categories in case someone is looking for something specific. These maps are personally picked out by me, I believe these maps are worth a visit and you will not regret it!

#adventure-maps – Maps with an objective, such as escape rooms, boss battles and etc.

#club-and-dance-maps – Dance to your heart’s content!

#exploration-maps – Maps where you can enjoy beautiful sights and seek out secrets.

#festive-maps – Maps to celebrate the holidays!

#game-maps – PVP/Game maps.

#hang-out-maps – Usually small maps where you can enjoy conversations with friends.

#horror-maps – As the name entails, not for the faint of heart.

#sleep-maps – Good places for sleepy time, make sure you use a private world for these to not be woken up.

#unique-concept-maps – Maps designed to show off cool mechanics.

For example, here is the entry for the Stair Hall world, found in the #unique-concept-maps channel. Basically, it’s a snapshot of the entry under the Worlds menu:

The world itself, Stair Hall, is a maddening maze of procedurally-generated staircases leading up and down as far as the eye can see, with your goal being to reach an elusive prize in a glass cabinet.

The only problem with this directory of cool places to visit is that it is in Discord, outside your VR headset! So you’ll have to go back and forth in order to use it. Either that, or use the VRChat Maps Discord first, in order to draw up a list of some interesting places to see, noting down the keywords to search under Worlds, then go in-world to explore.

Other ways to find cool worlds to explore are to check out the #world-showcase channel on the VRChat Community Discord, or the #favorite-worlds channel on the VRChat Events Discord. There’s also a Showcase forum on the VRCat user discussion forums for people to share worlds.

Happy exploring!

UPDATE Nov. 12th: A commenter on the VRChat subReddit told me about The World of VRChat, a website directory for VRChat worlds that I did not know about before. The website is in Japanese, but if you turn on Google auto-translate, it works well. Thank you, Warhorse07!

Tafi Allows You to Create a Customized VRChat Avatar Without Needing to Learn 3D Design Software, Coding, or Rigging!

VRChat allows you endless avatar customization options—provided you can wrap your head around a workflow which requires some knowledge of Unity and the VRChat SDK. If you’re not using a pre-existing model and you want to create an avatar from scratch, you’ll also have to have skills in using complex 3D design software like Blender (or pay someone to create an avatar for you).

And, unlike social VR platforms such as Sansar and Sinespace that have dressable human avatars, if you decide you want your VRChat avatar to have a yellow shirt instead of a red shirt, then you’ll pretty much need to start over with your avatar creation process.

However, a company named Tafi wants to make the customized avatar creation process much easier, including the ability to easily make changes to what your avatar looks like (physical build, hair colour and style, eye colour, etc.) and what clothing they’re wearing. And Tafi is now open in beta for people who want to create avatars for VRChat, and the best part is, the beta is free!

It’s quite easy to sign up for free access to the Tafi beta avatar creator for VRChat avatars; just click the Join the Beta button on the Tafi website, and provide your email address, and you can then download and install the program. Here’s what the initial screen looks like:

The pop-up screen says:

Thanks for signing up for our beta!

To make sure you have the best experience and can explore all of our assets, we are giving you exclusive access to our entire asset library, including the premium ones!

But, these are only going to be available for free during the beta time period. Once we launch the application for all users, the premium assets will be available with a small cost.

Good news though, whatever your avatar is wearing the day of our full launch will be yours to keep (don’t worry, we will remind you when we get closer).

Thanks again! Have fun exploring and creating!

The interface offers dozens of options for customizing your avatar, and offers over 400 clothing options. Basically, it’s point-and-click. Here’s a sample of what it looks like in action:

In less than half an hour, I had created a custom avatar I was very happy with!

All I had to do then was connect my avatar account by clicking on the button under the head-and-shoulders icon in the upper left hand corner. You are then automatically taken to the VRChat website to grant the Tafi app access to your account:

Once you have connected your account, you simply click on the blue button in the upper left-hand corner of the Tafi app to upload your customized avatar to VRChat:

It took about two minutes to upload my customized avatar. Then, I signed into VRchat and the uploaded Tafi avatar was sitting in my Avatar folder, ready for me to select and use. The whole process was quick and easy, taking less than 30 minutes from start to finish! Here’s my brand new avatar, a selfie I took of myself using the in-world camera tool:

And the best part is, I can change my outfit quickly and easily! If I want to wear a different shirt, all it takes is a few clicks to select the style and colour, a fresh upload, et voilà! A new avatar look.

Tafi is available to try for free during their beta period. Why don’t you give it a shot? I’m quite impressed with this new tool.