UPDATED! VRChat Launches Wolf3D’s Ready Player Me Avatar Creation System: Create a Humanoid Avatar from A Selfie in Just Minutes!

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:

To get started, simply head over to https://readyplayer.me/vrchat. Have fun! For more details, please see the official press release from Wolf3D.

UPDATE March 1st, 2021: Timmu Tõke, the CEO of WOlf3D, reported in an email:

In the first 24 hours, the VRChat community has created over 20,000 Ready Player Me avatars, peaking at 30 avatars per second and almost melting our servers (for real). We were featured on Road to VRUploadVRVRFocus, and many more.

Congratulations to Timmu and his team on their successful launch!

UPDATED! One Thing That VRChat Really Needs: Better Directories of Publicly-Accessible Worlds

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:

The Second Life Destination Guide (see the list of categories on the left-hand side?) VRChat desperately needs something like this.

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? 😉

UPDATE 12:30 p.m.: Well, this is interesting…according to the official press release about the launch of Wolf3D’s Ready Player Me avatar creation system in VRChat:

There are over 300,000 worlds created by the VRChat community. 

So, which is it, VRChat? 25,000? 50,000? or 300,000 worlds? And does that 300,000 figure include both public and private worlds? Inquiring minds want to know… 😉

An Excellent Video Essay on Identity, Gender, and VRChat (or, Why Everybody in VRChat Seems to Be an Anime Girl)

One of the best decisions I have ever made as a blogger has nothing to do with this blog: setting up the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, which currently has over 500 members who discuss, debate, and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse and the many companies building it—and who are often the source of great story leads for this blog!

And so it was that Madman, a member of my Discord community, tipped me off about this great, thoughtful one-hour YouTube video titled Identity, Gender, and VRChat (Why is everyone in VR an anime girl?), by a guy named Strasz. In a world of VRChat videos chockablock with livestreamed shenanigans, racist memes, and tomfoolery, Strasz presents a refreshing alternative: a one-hour, well-edited, thoughtful video essay on issues of identity and gender in VRChat, addressing a commonly-asked question: why is everybody you run into an anime girl?

It’s well worth setting aside an hour to watch this in full (I watched it last night before I went to bed):

The video is divided into five chapters; if you want to skip ahead, the part about anime girls is in the third chapter, but I would strongly recommend you watch the entire thing so you can see the excellent groundwork Strasz lays in creating an academic framework for his discussion, weaving in various research studies (which he footnotes both in the video itself and in the video description, something that gladdened this academic librarian’s heart!).

Now, coming from my 14 years of experiences in the virtual world of Second Life (where I could be, and often was, anybody and anything), I was already somewhat familiar with Strasz’ premise that social VR and virtual worlds give us an unparalleled opportunity to play with gender and identity, but I found I still learned quite a bit by watching this video, and I can recommend it highly! And I agree with his assertion that adding virtual reality to the mix greatly adds to the feeling of actually embodying your avatar representation in VRChat.

(If this topic intrigues you, you might also be interested in a 2017 blogpost I wrote about sex and gender issues in virtual worlds, and how some worlds impose artificial restraints upon non-binary users, forcing them into male or female roles.)

If you want more of this (and I certainly do!), then follow Strasz on Twitter or Twitch, check out the rest of his videos on YouTube, or join his Straszfilms Discord server. I look forward to future video essays!


Thanks to Madman for the heads up!

Social VR Research Alert: You Can Participate in a Clemson University Research Survey of LGBTQ+ Users of Social VR Platforms

Back in October of 2019, I wrote a blogpost about a research study being conducted by Clemson University on the use of social VR. Well, Clemson University’s Gaming and Mediated Experince (CU GAME) Lab, led by Dr. Guo Freeman in their School of Computing, is conducting a survey of LBGTQ+ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer, etc.) users of social VR platforms—including conducting interviews in AltspaceVR, Rec Room and VRChat, if you wish!

If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and you are interested in being interviewed for 60 to 90 minutes about your experiences in social VR, particularly with respect to self-presentation and social support, then you are invited to fill out this online form (more information about the research study can be found here). The form states:

We are a group of academic researchers at Clemson University who are conducting a research project about social VR. We are interested in interviewing individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, and understanding their experiences.

No personally identifiable data will be asked or collected, but we’ll ask general demographics questions (age, location, race, etc). You do not have to answer any questions that you do not feel comfortable answering.

If you have experienced any social VR platforms / applications / environments (AltspaceVR, Rec Room, VRChat, etc.) and are willing to be interviewed, please fill out the form … and we will contact you for more details about this research project.

Here is the link for a document with more information about the study.

Feel free to email us at dacena@clemson.edu if you have any questions.

Interviews are to be scheduled during the month February, and can be done via telephone call, Discord (text or voice chat), Zoom (voice or video chat), or even on the social VR platforms AltspaceVR, Rec Room, or VRChat!

If you are interested, here is a the website (including a list of current research publications) by the Clemson University GAME Lab.

Are you a member of the LGBTQ community and use one or more social VR platforms? Clemson University wants to interview you! (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)