A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Due to the open nature of the platform, users can create or join custom rooms that host a variety of ideas and beliefs. This can be a double edged sword though. For every person, every room, or virtual forum that might produce positive messages, expanded knowledge, and acceptance, there will be others that could be negative, spread misinformation, and intolerance to others.
Positive Role Models
As a virtual social environment, real world people are represented by virtual avatars. This allows people a large measure of both flexibility and anonymity. On the one hand, users can put forth any version of themselves that could fall anywhere between helpful and beneficial to hurtful and even abusive. Entire communities are built around helping others, while others are toxic.
One true benefit to the virtual nature is the fact that users get to choose exactly how they wish to be represented in the environment. This, coupled with a fluidity that allows them to change at a moment's notice, allows many to feel represented without specific labels attached to them. Unfortunately, this can also be abused by some users, who may choose to intentionally mislead others with their representation.
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Ease of Play
The basics of navigating and interacting within the VRChat framework is relatively intuitive to use. Most features are accessible through a quickly accessible menu interface. Downloading and using VRChat's Software Development Kit (SDK), on the other hand, requires an extensive bit of technical knowledge to create custom content for the platform.
Violence & Scariness
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Similar to violent content, there's no sexual content built into the main framework of the platform, though user generated content still runs the risk of exposing users to more explicit content. Also, interactions between users could result in people being exposed to sexually suggestive/explicit language and gestures from others until being blocked and muted on an individual basis.
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The platform is built for users to interact with each other in natural conversations. As a result, users can often be exposed to frequent use of profanity and offensive language until they mute, block, and/or report individual users for their behavior.
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Products & Purchases
VRChat is a relatively open platform, built upon the idea of giving users the tools to create their own customized content for use and for sale. While there's a lot of content available for free, there is also content advertised for purchase from third party outlets. Players can also support VRChat via a VRChat Plus premium monthly subscription, adding a few new features and extra content.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
While not built into the main framework of the platform, user generated content can still reference and portray things like alcohol, smoking, and drug use.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that VRChat is a downloadable virtual reality social platform available for use on the Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Valve Index virtual reality hardware. Users can sign in, choose an avatar, and visit different rooms to interact with others in a variety of social activities. The platform's growth is dependent on user created content and user interactions. This can result in experiences that cover the whole spectrum from helpful and supportive to hurtful and even abusive. Though users can block, mute, and report others and their content, there's little in the way of efficient moderation. Though not baked into the framework of the platform, the anonymity of personas and volume of customized content, users could still be exposed to disturbing imagery, sexually suggestive and explicit content, profanity, and references to drug and alcohol use. The platform is free to download and use, as is the software development kit, with a premium VRChat Plus monthly subscription available to supporters and multiple third party content available for purchase and use.
Is It Any Good?
There are some things in life that can't necessarily be defined in basic terms of black and white, but instead are made up by various shades of grey. VRChat is one of these things. After all, the very thing that makes the socially driven virtual reality platform brim with positive potential is also its own worst enemy, and that's the people using it. VRChat is built on the premise that, using its available features and tools, users can do just about anything and be just about anyone they want, all in a seamless virtual environment that's as simple to navigate as the real world. And in many ways, from a purely technical standpoint, VRChat succeeds in doing just that. The problem is, if you give people a giant sandbox to play in without much supervision, there will inevitably be those that just want to kick dirt on everyone else.
Make no mistake about it, technical suggestions on VR tech aside, VRChat is no place for younger audiences. For every person that might be using an avatar to exist in a way that they might not be comfortable with or even able to in the real world, there will be people using that same anonymity to as a mask to cover reprehensible behavior that would never be acceptable in the real world. You might enter one room and find a group of welcoming folks eager to swap stories and share knowledge, while walking into another exposes you to a cesspool of human toxicity and cruelty. It's hard at times to get through any lengthy session of VRChat without running into some sort of offensive content, be it a disturbing avatar or image upload by another user or a lewd conversation from a stranger. Because the platforms thrives on user-content, moderating that content seems to be low on the list of VRChat's priorities. Sure, you can mute others, block their avatars, and even report misconduct, but only after the fact. The result is a sort of Wild West lawlessness in a virtual, neon fueled fever dream. And even though there's so much potential for good and positive uses in the platform, that can only come with learning how to deal with those that would use the same tools for all the wrong reasons.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.