VR Chat and the Covid-19 Pandemic
Way back in my youth, there was this song which was very popular which most of the kids of the day knew by heart and was even sang in schools worldwide. Today, so many years into the future, the lyrics has left me but the tune still remains. So, looking it up gave me the opportunity to listen to it once again and remember the message it gave to the whole world. It went like this... No man is an island, No man stands alone, Each man's joy is joy to me, Each man's grief is my own...
Of course back then, you could only talk with the people in your immediate area or by using the Telephone and radio communications. The Internet was still a far cry into the distant future and who ever thought that the time would come that you could talk to somebody across the globe by using a gobbledegook watchmacallit stuck to your face or by staring at an animated person looking back at you through a computer screen. The advancement in technology never ceases to amaze me through the years. Sadly, along with the growth of humanity comes the tragedy of both natural and man-made catastrophe and a horrific example of this is the current worldwide pandemic occurring today.
The Corona Virus Pandemic has drastically changed peoples day-to-day lives the world over. In order to counteract the spread of the contagion, the world had to go into emergency lockdown with huge areas of population placed into quarantine. This left a lot of people isolated in their own homes and with the exception of one's family members, almost no physical and social contact with anyone else. Fortunately, with today’s computer and communications technology, the problem of social isolation can somehow be dealt with.
Surviving through a pandemic is a difficult thing. Some are lucky and some are not. There are those who have tragically lost love ones as well as people who aren't taking the isolation experience very well. People need somebody to talk to, a sympathetic ear, a comforting voice or even a virtual shoulder or two to cry on. The pandemic has left a lot of people scared, anxious, nervous, restless and stressed with real problems that look and seem insurmountable and this usually gives a feeling of being alone. It's a good thing that with the help of VR and/or a computer connected to the Internet, reaching out to someone else isn't that difficult to do.
VR Chat is a Virtual Reality App that can be accessed via a VR headset and/or a PC monitor. The App was created by Graham Gaylor and Jesse Joudrey and released on February 2017. It's a Free2Play graphics chat application on Steam which doubles as sort of a sandbox games since you can almost do anything virtually in it's chat/game world. Just like most chat applications (even if one has to go all the way back to the time of IRC) you can enter a number of chat rooms or worlds where you can meet other people online in whatever they may be doing at the moment like walking, running, dancing, shooting each other or just hanging around for someone to talk with.
Those who have used VR Chat know very well how awesome the graphics is and how fun filled a chat world can be when populated by a lot of joking, laughing and trying so hard to be funny online users. With the beautifully Unity rendered maps /rooms /worlds and the variety of avatars from the cutest little anime girl to the dumbest looking giant chicken, there is always some thing or some one that can make you grin or laugh in VR Chat. This app has gone through it's ups and downs since it's release but there were always people around in need of somebody to talk to. Today, with the pandemic happening and a lot of people stuck at home, VR Chat has become one of the most busiest online places that people go to. As of April of this year (2020) VR Chat has a current user base of more or less 16K Steam users and it doesn't seem to be slacking down.
People visit VR Chat for so many reasons. These may vary from simply looking for online social entertainment to the more serious discussions and emotional support needs. Most of the time, people are just there to forget their current problems for the time being and have a great time. However, during this pandemic, it is not unusual to come across some people who really need a good ear to turn to and an emotional state that is silently screaming for help. As there are a lot of jerks (both male and female) in VR Chat there are a lot of friendly and good people too who will stop to chat, sympathize and council others in the spirit of humanity and good will.
Going through the myriad of You Tube videos on VR Chat will present some of the most tragic and emotional stories about the pandemic and the direct experiences of some of the users of the app. This is the time when you will find many of those cute little anime girls pouring their hearts out about how the Covid-19 contagion has affected them, their loved ones and the place where they live. You will find groups of avatars huddled together in deep conversation about the pandemic and how it is currently affecting their lives. Suggestions, friendly advices as well as comforting words are given and received.
Regardless of what one may think, VR Chat is doing such a great job of providing an emotional cushion through it's social and gaming platform to those who need it. Whether you want to talk or just stroll around the various chat worlds to admire, smile and laugh, chances are, there is always going to be some character running around who will make your day. Should you go in with your friends (both online and those you actually see), then the more fun you will have. There is always something to do and a crowd to join. After all, where can you see a giant chicken playing CounterStrike with a bunch of anti-terrorist guys or a small dude hiding in a chest. In Chat VR, fun is everywhere, but in this special time of the pandemic you will also see that humanity as well is everywhere.
With VR Chat, No Man Is An Island...or ever has to be.