A Quick Guide to the VRChat Communities on Discord, Twitch, YouTube, and Other Social Media (Plus a Couple of Directories of VRChat Maps/Worlds!)

After writing up my recent blogpost about the Second Life blogging and vlogging community, I decided to investigate what social media exists around another popular social VR platform/virtual world, VRChat, which I have been writing about for four years now on this blog.

Blogs

To my surprise, there’s very little in the way of blogging about VRChat; my Google searches consistently pulled up only two blogs which discuss VRChat regularly, my own blog, and Wagner James Au’s venerable blog New World Notes, which has branched out from its original coverage of Second Life to write about other virtual worlds (here’s a link to all of my VRChat posts, and a link to all of Wagner’s).

Discords

As for Discords, there are any number of popular Discord communities:

There are also the following Discord servers, which have a VRChat section or channel:

Directories of VRChat Worlds

As I have written about before, it can be difficult to find good directories of VRChat maps (i.e. worlds) to explore (other than the Worlds listing in the VRChat client itself).

There is a Japanese-language website called The World of VRChat, a website directory for VRChat worlds (if you turn on Google auto-translate in your Chrome web browser, it works well enough). I don’t know how up-to-date it is kept, however, and I have been unable to find any other website directories like this one.

The World of VRChat Website

Also, VRChat user CatRazor has created a very useful Discord server called VRChat Maps, where users can post their favourite maps to various channels. Check it out!

The VRChat Maps Discord server

If you know of any other VRChat map/world directories which exist outside the VRChat client, please drop a comment, thank you!


Of course, it was the Twitch and YouTube livestreamers who first brought attention to VRChat, so it only makes sense that the overwhelming majority of the social media out there about VRChat is on Twitch and YouTube.

Twitch

There’s a very active VRChat community on Twitch, with dozens of livestreamers. Your best bet is to go exploring, and see whose content appeals to you!

Just a small sample of the VRChat streamers on Twitch

YouTube

There are hundreds of people who regularly post videos about VRChat to YouTube. Feedspot maintains what it claims is an up-to-date list of the most popular VRChat YouTubers, but I have discovered that many of the people on this list haven’t posted VRChat videos to YouTube in many months, if not years (for example, Nagzz21 is listed, but he stopped posting videos about VRChat a year ago, citing the U.S. FTC’s COPPA legislation).

There are so many VRChat videos on YouTube that it is possible to create subcategories! For example, there are many YouTubers who focus on slice of life or “man in the street” interviews:

Here’s a couple of examples of YouTube videos from iListen and iamLucid, to give you an idea of the content you can expect in these interview videos:

Other VRChat videos tend to be edited or unedited recordings of shenanigans happening on the social VR platform. Your mileage may vary; some of funnier or others, but overall it comes down to your personal sense of humour. Here’s the results of a keyword search for “VRChat” on YouTube; dive in! If you’re looking for the most popular VRChat videos, start here (but be warned; some of these are not for the faint of heart!).


Do you know of any resources which should be listed here? If you know of a Discord server, a YouTube channel, or a Twitch channel, or some other social media that should be included in this blogpost? Then please feel free to leave a comment, thanks!

Savvy Promotion of Social VR and Virtual Worlds: Learning Valuable Marketing Lessons from Second Life

Meela Vanderbuilt’s YouTube page

I believe that Second Life, at the ripe old age of 18, is the perfect model of a mature, fully-evolved virtual world, which many newer entrants into the metaverse market would be very wise to study. And one of the things which those newer platforms would be smart to emulate, is the cultivation of a fervent and creative fanbase, who make and post content on all kinds of social media on the internet.

Second Life has a vibrant and thriving community of thousands and thousands of bloggers, vloggers, photographers, and machinima makers. Combine that with a flourishing ecosystem of programs and tools, such as the Black Dragon viewer, and you get a creative frenzy of activity which is, as yet, unmatched by any other social VR platform or virtual world (although VRChat comes close!). It’s essentially a self-sustaining marketing machine at this point, selling SL to a wide outside audience.

Second Life has even evolved its own particular brand of celebrity, such as those vloggers whose content attracts thousands of views on YouTube. You might call them virtual influencers! While I have been in (semi-) lockdown during the past year-and-a-half of the coronavirus pandemic, I have spent many an hour curled up on the sofa with my trusty iPad, watching some of these videos!

Some, like Cat Pink and Naria Panthar, tend to focus on Second Life shopping events and hunts. Others, like Meela Vanderbuilt and Carmen King, offer entertaining commentary as they go about their daily Second Lives. Here’s a recent example of a Carmen King video:

Now, Carmen King might not agree with your taste or sensibilities (I personally think she’s hilarious). But Carmen also vlogs regularly about her adventures in IMVU, the Sims 4, and games like Grand Theft Auto V, and I can tell you that this is exactly the sort of thing which intrigues her cross-over video audience, and tends to bring them into Second Life, to try it out for themselves. (I’m quite sure that any number of Sims players have ventured into SL because of Carmen’s videos.)

See the lesson here? If the newer social VR platforms were wise, they would create incentives (monetary or otherwise) to cultivate the users who create this sort of content. It’s the best and most natural form of advertising, that’s inspired by the fanbase of the platform, and driven by the enthusiasm of the creators themselves.

So my message. to all those companies which are toiling away, hoping to inherit the mantle of Second Life and become the next massive metaverse platform, is this: pay attention to your community, and encourage their creative pursuits! You might be pleasantly surprised at the spin-off benefits of cultivating and leveraging your fanbases. So go, get out there, and find your own Carmen King! 😉

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!

UPDATED! Coronavirus Pandemic: What You Are Feeling Is Grief (And What You Are Seeing Is Plagiarism)

I make no secret of the fact that I have been struggling emotionally during the coronavirus pandemic, which is why I found the following five-minute YouTube video to be comforting. Psychologist Dr. Sarb Johal tweeted it with the following comment:

We feel the world has changed, and it has. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. Here’s what’s going on and what you can do.

Now, this is not something that I haven’t already heard from my psychiatrist and other people. But there’s just something about the way Dr. Johal puts it.

If, like me, you are struggling, you need to set aside five minutes and watch this:

Thank you, Dr. Sarb Johal! I thought the least I could so is repost this video, since at the moment it has a criminally low 44 views! So get out there and share this. Thanks!

UPDATE 10:45 p.m.: One of my regular blog readers, Brinlea, just shared with me the following article from the Harvard Business Review: That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief, an interview with renowned grief expert David Kessler (thanks, Brinlea!).

Hmmm, this article was written March 23rd, over three weeks ago, and Dr. Johal posted his YouTube video just six hours ago. And the HBR article is pretty much the exact script of what Dr. Johal said in his YouTube video, right down to the examples used. Even the text of Dr. Johal’s tweet (which I quoted up top) is lifted verbatim from the article.

Hmmm… I think at the very least, the good doctor should have credited where he got his information from. Read the Harvard Business Review article and then watch Dr. Johal’s video and you’ll see what I mean. And I wouldn’t even have known about it if it weren’t for Brinlea.

So I will take back my earlier praise. This is still useful information, engagingly imparted, but this is also plagiarism. Dr. Johal basically lifted, almost verbatim, what David Kessler said in his interview with the Harvard Business Review. As a librarian who teaches proper citation style to university students, this is a major no-no.

Not impressed. If you’re going to steal another person’s words, then have the guts to cite your sources. (Do not fuck with the librarians, we will catch you out!)

And if you are looking for some properly cited sources of information about mental health during the pandemic, here is a blogpost I keep updated—to which I have now added two excellent articles from the Harvard Business Review.