UPDATED! The Dirty Little Secret of VRChat: Hidden Adult Content

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You might remember that a while back, I wrote a speculative blogpost about what would happen if one of the more popular social VR platforms were to break from the pack and allow adult/sexual content—only to discover (based on a user tip) that one of them (High Fidelity) already, very quietly, was.

Well, very shortly after writing and updating that particular blogpost, I was informed that a second popular social VR platform, VRChat, also has quietly allowed adult/NSFW content to be served from private worlds, something of which I was also unaware. (Please note that this is not a criticism of VRChat, or High Fidelity for that matter; my personal opinion is that adult content, when properly managed and carefully restricted to consenting users aged 18+, can indeed drive usage of, and business to, certain platforms. It’s one of the things that is currently contributing to Second Life’s longevity, for example.)

My anonymous source tells me:

As someone who plays a lot of VRChat, VRChat for sure allows adult content. They won’t tell you that though. Adult content must be kept to Invite Only or Invite+ worlds, it’s not allowed in public. But the adult worlds are out there.

I’ve seen some interesting art galleries. Also, I’ve seen some really interesting stuff since VRChat allows for custom shaders. A friend of mine made a deformation shader where the mesh would deform to your touch. You can guess what he used it for.

But yeah, VRChat totally allows that stuff, they just pretend it doesn’t exist, but they also don’t do anything about it even when they know it exists. I think it’s a brand thing. They don’t want to become the VR sex place.

Here is a screen capture of one of the rotating messages which appear in the VRChat client as your chosen world is loading:

Please note the curious and very specific wording, differentiating between not-safe-for-work content “in Public worlds (Public, Friends+)” and “streamed or shared from Private worlds (Invite, Invite+, Friends)”.

Invite and Invite+ worlds were introduced back in February 2018:

Invite – Very private. Owner can accept invite requests and send invites. Occupants get notifications that others want into the instance.
Invite+ – Somewhat private. Owner and any occupants can accept invite requests.

Here’s a link to a brief tutorial on Reddit on how to generate invitation links to private worlds in VRChat. So it’s possible to share a private invitation to a world with only those people you want to come in.

Now, I’m not really sure how to parse this strangely-worded ban on streaming and sharing adult content (isn’t that something that has to happen anyway, even if you’ve been invited to a private world?), but it seems to me that, as VRChat is about to gain a whole whack of new users with its impending launch on the Oculus Quest, that Facebook/Oculus is probably going to be taking a really, really hard look at this (if they haven’t already done so).

Also, I have (sadly, but perhaps not too surprisingly) not been invited to view any adult/sexual content in VRChat, so I cannot confirm what my anonymous sources have told me personally.

I’m already somewhat unpopular among a few VRChat users for even daring to bring up intellectual content and copyright issues on the platform before, and that’s probably yet another thing that may get a bit of a shake-up with the upcoming move to the Oculus Quest. (Not to beat a dead horse. But yeah, I am. And I am now going to let that matter rest in peace, before I sound like the grumpy old man that I am rapidly becoming…**Ryan takes another swig of Geritol, yells at the kids to get off his lawn**)

My understanding is that Facebook/Oculus is going to be much more stringent with its curation of content available to users of the Quest ecosystem, at least compared to the relatively open Early Access program for the Rift. What this actually means when the Oculus Quest officially launches and VRChat is made available as an app on the Quest is still somewhat open to speculation. (For that matter, the same applies to High Fidelity, although I have been unable to 100% confirm that it will launch on the Quest. No official announcement has yet been made.)

However, and before I get accused of being a VRChat basher by publicizing this hidden adult content, I will refer you to a quote I made when I was accused of bashing Sansar by criticizing its launch on Steam:

I want to stress that this is only one person’s opinion, not an official Sansar spokesperson’s point of view. I still remain a strong Sansar supporter, but I would be neglecting my duties as an independent social VR/virtual worlds blogger if I simply posted nothing but “good news” about Sansar, as some people want me to do.

And the exact same sentiment applies to VRChat as to Sansar. I like VRChat, I enjoy VRChat, and I have made some great friends and had some wonderful experiences there, but I am not simply going to be a cheerleader for the platform; I want to be able to report both the good and not-so-good sides of all the social VR platforms and virtual worlds I write about in this blog.

What do you think? Please feel free to leave a comment below, thanks!

UPDATE 5:49 p.m.: Well, this just gets even more confusing. I’ve received a link to the VRChat Community Guidelines, which clearly state:

Inappropriate Content

– Live streaming, advertising or publicly sharing content that is sexually explicit in nature or simulates sex acts is not permitted. Doing so may result in moderation action being taken against your account up to (but not limited to) banning of the offending user account depending on the severity of the act in question.
– Pornography & nudity is not allowed.

So, you can technically visit and see adult content in private worlds if you were invited (as shown in the very careful wording of the screen capture above), but pornography and nudity are against the VRChat Community Guidelines, so if the company actually finds out what you’re doing, they can shut you down. Note that this stance differs markedly from that of High Fidelity, which shifts the onus of responsibility entirely onto those who host their own content on their own servers.


UPDATED! Editorial: Which Social VR Platform Will Be the First to Allow Adult Content?

The Escort Oasis in Second Life

I’ve been doing some thinking lately. Now hear me out on this.

Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, has gone on record that there will never be adult content in Sansar. Not because he’s opposed to it (after all, Second Life makes a not insignificant portion of its profit from the dozens of adult-rated sims on the grid, catering to just about every sexual kink imaginable). In fact, Second Life is so successful at this aspect of the business that it makes it almost impossible for any other adult virtual world to get a financial foothold (link is safe for work).

Ebbe is opposed to adult content from the point of view that he wants Sansar to be a success, a roaring success like Second Life was in its time, and that often means partnerships with other companies. Companies who are understandably very squeamish about associating their brand names with sex and adult content. The United States of America, for all the glorification of violence portrayed in its cultural exports like videogames and movies, is still remarkably puritanical (and frankly, somewhat hypocritical) when it comes to sex.

None of what I call the “Big Five” social VR platforms (or even the top 12, for that matter) allow adult content. Note that here I am talking specifically about general-purpose/multipurpose platforms, not the purely sex-oriented ones like 3DX Chat (all links in this paragraph are safe for work).

But what would happen if one of them decides to break from the pack and allow sexual content? Assuming, of course, that there would be some kind of permissions system in place to lock it down and restrict access to only those adults who want to see and participate in it (like what Second Life already has, but perhaps even more restrictive).

That social VR platform would probably get a huge boost in business, along with a burst of media attention (not all of it positive). And it might just get enough attention to actually become a major player, becoming in effect the next Second Life, with user concurrency figures to match.

It’s a risky gamble, and if it is not handled correctly, it will tarnish the name of whatever social VR platform makes the attempt (much the same as Second Life now has a certain disreputable reputation in some quarters, even though it is certainly possible to use and enjoy SL without ever stepping foot in an adult sim).

But for some company, sick and tired of being the underdog virtual world after pouring untold time and money into building a platform, only to have it ignored, it might be a truly tempting prospect. And it would probably up-end the marketplace.

Then again, perhaps somebody will just go and create a purely adult-oriented social VR platform. We’ve already seen a first attempt to support VR with the adult virtual world Oasis (link is safe for work), but when I tried it, it didn’t work very well at all. Furthermore, it looks like the company is having trouble attracting users (they recently switched from their initial US$20-per-month subscription plan to US$20 for a “lifetime membership”, which indicates a certain level of desperation setting in). After writing my profile on the platform (see link above), I uninstalled Oasis from my computer and I have no plans to return.

The adult virtual world 3DX Chat also says they support the Oculus Rift VR headset on their website, and I did try it out once, but it’s also pretty buggy. After writing my profile (link is safe for work), I uninstalled the client software, and I have absolutely zero inclination to want to revisit 3DX Chat. As I have said before on this blog:

…I want to make it clear that I am not going to get into the habit of covering adult/sex-based virtual worlds. There are literally dozens of them out there, and frankly, I find them boring as hell.

Will I cover sex/adult-oriented social VR platforms in future on this blog? If it doesn’t cost me anything to test it out, once, then I might do it again. I mean, I’m a 55-year-old out-of-the-closet gay man; it’s not like I need a note from my Mommy to see nekkid people 😉

So, what do you think? Which social VR company do you think will take the plunge into adult content? Or do you think a new, adults-only company will capture the market instead? Please feel free to leave a comment on this blogpost, or join the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, where nearly 200 members are ready and willing to discuss and debate these and many other issues around social VR and virtual worlds!

UPDATE Feb. 19th: SURPRISE! As it turns out, one of the top social VR platforms already allows adult content, and I wasn’t even aware of it!

A commenter to this blogpost mentioned that High Fidelity actually allows adult content, and I posted a question on the official High Fidelity forums.

According to the High Fidelity Terms of Service:

These Terms of Service for High Fidelity Domains are applicable only when you access or use High Fidelity Domains (content hosted by High Fidelity). HIGH FIDELITY IS NOT RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY ASPECT OF THE HIGH FIDELITY PLATFORM THAT IS NOT HOSTED, DISTRIBUTED, PROVIDED OR MAINTAINED BY HIGH FIDELITY.

So it would appear that you can have adult content on your own domain, as long as you don’t bring any adult content into HiFi’s own hosted domains. Furthermore, you can set an adults-only (age 18+) rating in the description section of the domain when you are setting it up:

Which leads to the follow-up question I asked: Are there already adult-rated/adult-content domains in High Fidelity? One person responded:

There are users who have adult content in their domains, but these are usually made private (unlisted) so that unaware users do not wander in… which is probably why most people haven’t seen them  🙂

I am pretty sure that most people are not aware that you can already have adult content in High Fidelity. I know that I’ve never heard of it before this! And High Fidelity probably doesn’t want to advertise that fact too loudly or too broadly, lest they get overrun with people setting up adult domains. Or maybe they do actually want that market! How interesting…

SECOND UPDATE Feb. 19th: HiFi user and unofficial High Fidelity Discord moderator Menithal has kindly given me a link to where Philip Rosedale talked about this back in October of 2017:

[High Fidelity] is an open source system where you run the servers. You can do whatever you want on your server. You are responsible for any local laws you might break, etc. We are just like an Apache web server.

Because we provide search services for placenames or domains on the web and in places like the go-to button on the tablet, we will use self-described ratings and other data we can collect to provide filters for those searches. Obviously you can opt out of using or being included in those search services. So these ratings will be used there.

Menithal suggests reading through the full discussion thread I linked to above, not just the part where Philip weighs in, in order to get the full context of the discussion.

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3DX Chat: A Brief Introduction (and the Biggest Problem with Most Adult Virtual Worlds)

(Yes, yes, I know, I know, I said I was taking a break. You know how bad I am at keeping these sorts of promises by now, right?)


Before we get started, I want to make it clear that I am not going to get into the habit of covering adult/sex-based virtual worlds. There are literally dozens of them out there, and frankly, I find them boring as hell.

So, why am I writing about 3DX Chat? Well, as you will learn, I discovered that they have a free-to-access test version available for a limited time, so I decided to check it out. (I first heard about it from a Second Life blogger.)

Frankly, the very few adult virtual world platforms which I have mentioned before on this blog (namely, Utherverse/Red Light Center, LivCloser, and Oasis) have not impressed me very much. The biggest problem is that many of these newer adult/sex-based virtual worlds simply cannot compete with everything that the entrenched frontrunner Second Life, with a 15-year head start, has to offer:

  • SL now has extremely attractive, realistic-looking mesh avatars (male, female, and any mythical creature you could ever dream up), with a near-endless array of avatar customization options (hair, clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.). You can outfit your avatar to fit into any style or scene! No other virtual world can compete.
  • In-world stores and the SL Marketplace sell tens of thousands of different animations (dance, cuddle, sex, etc.); again, there’s something to suit every taste. Again, no other virtual world can compete with the endless selection.
  • Finally, Second Life offers hundreds of adult locations, many staffed with dozens of avatars who are ready, willing, and able to roleplay sexual scenes (via chat, voice, even webcam!). Again, no other sex-based virtual world comes even close.

Now I want to assure you (despite SL’s reputation in some quarters) that you can easily enjoy and appreciate Second Life without setting foot once in any of these adult areas. You can easily set up your client software to avoid showing adult-rated places to you under Places search, for example. But they are there, if you are curious. And some of these places are quite popular. Frankly, sex is one of the reasons that Second Life is still as popular as it is, for a certain minority of visitors.

I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to explore yet another sex-based social VR space/virtual world, called 3DX Chat (WARNING: ADULT CONTENT! This link is MOST DEFINITELY NOT SAFE FOR WORK! Consider yourself warned.).

3dxchat 6 17 Oct 2018.png

Normally, you have to purchase a monthly subscription to visit and use 3DX Chat, starting at US$19.99 a month:

3dxchat 5 16 Oct 2018.png

But, for a limited time, I discovered that they are offering free access to a new test client and server, so I decided that I would investigate. (WARNING: This link has pictures in it that are NOT SAFE FOR WORK! Again, consider yourself warned.).

So I put on my reporter’s cap and went to check out this new world (well, not so new; 3DX Chat is apparently already 5 years old).

The good news is that, at least compared to LivCloser, Oasis, and Utherverse/RLC, the avatars do actually look pretty good. Here’s what I able to pull together for a more modest look for my test female avatar:

3dxchat 1 16 Oct 2018.png

3dxchat 2 16 Oct 2018.png

It’s a very different pricing model than Second Life; your monthly subscription fee seems to include all possible options for body shapes and sizes, hair, makeup, clothing, jewelry, shoes, etc. You can also tint your hair and clothing to any colour you desire. But all these options are still limited to about a dozen hairstyles, a dozen dresses, a dozen styles of footwear, etc., so most of the 3DX Chat avatars land up looking a lot like each other anyways. (Not to mention that most in-game women seem to prefer that starving, anorexic look. Get those poor women some sandwiches, pronto!)

You can also choose from several kinds of locales where you can meet, chat with, dance with, and have sex with other avatars, like this luxury yacht. At the highest settings, the environments are very attractively rendered, and you can control the time of day or night on all of them, everything from midday to sunset to midnight:

3dxchat 4 16 Oct 2018.png

3dxchat 8 17 Oct 2018.png

The experimental high-quality water setting is actually quite realistic-looking, among the best water I’ve seen in any virtual world:

3DXchat 9 18 Oct 2018.png

But let’s not kid ourselves. Any socializing that does take place here is essentially foreplay. 3DX Chat is ALL about the sex. It’s not unusual to walk around couples and trios engaged in the act, wherever you go: on a sofa in a club, on a beach, in a prison cell, up against a wall or a stripper pole, etc. After a while, your eyes glaze over at all the non-stop sex.

(By the way, if someone is pestering you, you can simply click on them, and select Ignore from the menu that pops up. And poof! they disappear! It should be so easy to get rid of creepers in the real world!)

There is also an option to use 3DX Chat with an Oculus Rift VR headset, but I found navigation to be rather buggy and clunky. It’s not ready for prime time yet, in my opinion. However, you can move around well enough in desktop mode.

So, what do I think about 3DX Chat after my reporter’s excursion? 3DX Chat certainly offers better-looking avatars than Oasis, which is critical for a successful adult virtual world, but you still have far fewer options available than what Second Life offers you. For example, you only can choose about a dozen dances for your avatar on the dancefloor in 3DX Chat, as opposed to tens of thousands of dances available to you in SL.

I will close with a quote from reporter Susannah Breslin, from my blogpost on another product, CamasutraVR:

 Susannah Breslin has written an article for The Atlantic about the current state of the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley, which also mentions CamasturaVR and the Uncanny Valley:

Whether or not people get turned on by VR pornography, the technology is changing the places where adult content has traditionally been created. Porn Valley is being displaced by porn’s uncanny valley—an X-rated version of the theory holding that a robotic or simulated entity that appears to be human, but not quite fully human, revolts us. Losing a connection to the material world—the skin and sweat of reality—may also lose what makes porn alluring.

She concludes the article by stating:

Everyone wants to feel something,” Adam Sutra told me of his experiments in virtual pornography. He’s right about that. Porn isn’t about sex at all, I’ve learned. It’s about wanting to feel something. And until technology figures out how to make me feel the way that I do when I’m on a porn set, I’ll leave virtual-reality sex to the start-up boys.

Perfectly put!