VRChat Dev Vows To Address ‘Harmful’ User Behavior In Open Letter

by Jamie Feltham • January 12th, 2018

Social VR platform VRChat has vowed to tackle “disrespectful or harmful behavior” in an open letter to the community.

VRChat, which launched early last year, is one of many VR platforms that allows friends and strangers to meet up online and hang out. Unlike many other apps, though, VRChat allows users to create their own 3D models to use as avatars and build new experiences via Unity. However, as the platform experienced “explosive growth” over the Christmas period, there’s been an increase in problematic behavior on the platform ranging from trolling to racism and sexism.

A snapshot of the troubling culture was caught by Oculus designer Katie Chironis earlier this week. A big warning, though: racist and sexual language can be heard throughout.

The language heard here is part of the ‘Ugandan Knuckles’ meme that has surfaced on the platform and made its way onto Twitter in the past few weeks.

In the letter the VRChat team acknowledged that it was struggling with “trying to maintain and shape a community that is fun and safe for everyone.”

“We’re aware there’s a percentage of users that choose to engage in disrespectful or harmful behavior,” the letter reads. “It is our top priority to address the quality of the VRChat experience, especially for new users, and our team will continue to work toward improving that. We have a trained and dedicated moderation team that monitors VRChat constantly.”

In addition, the team is working on tools that will allow the community to “better self moderate and for our moderation team to be more effective.” For now, though, the team recommends using the Mute/Block feature on those spewing offensive language or using the Mute All toggle to silence everyone but those on your friends list. You can report users with the Moderation Report Form, too.

This is far from the first time we’ve seen social VR platforms used for offensive behavior. In late 2016 tech reporter Taylor Lorenz wrote about her experiences with sexual harassment on AltspaceVR. Overcoming the hurdle of toxic online culture is one of the biggest challenges these platforms face.

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  • gothicvillas

    wait.. where was the racism or bad behaviour in this clip?

    • Bundy

      Maybe the guy constantly shouting, “Katie’s a twat! She’s a twat! ALL GIRLS ARE TWATS!” … Maybe.

      • gothicvillas

        Oh wow! Did he really say that???? Like for real??? OMG hope you are in the safe space now.

        • Bundy

          At first I thought you watched the wrong video or had audio problems. Thanks for clarifying that it wasn’t any of those things, you’re just a douche. You can crawl back into your hole now.

          • wazthatme

            You really need to find a safe space try removing the internet from your life its better for all of us

          • Bundy

            Oh good, another douche.

          • wazthatme

            No you are the only one here lol

          • Michael

            No man, we’re here to have fun. You’re not. Go away.

          • Bundy

            If having fun to you is screaming awful things at other people then you are everything wrong with the world today.

          • Michael

            I’m sorry, I don’t do that. It happens to me and I really don’t care. She is part of the problem for trying to get everyone else censored.

            And so are you.

      • Aiden Lautt

        where’s the racism tho

        • Bundy

          Yeah, I didn’t hear any racism either. Just that one guy following her around screaming at her like an idiot.

      • wazthatme

        Maybe they should stop being dumb twats?

  • Courtney A Jeff

    I been on this for three to four years off and on and the insults and hate is obvious and ridiculous.The new users and players are always the punks that seem to ruin it for everyone.I who have been a Christian for many years use my screen name to Glorify Jesus.It has and does target me for persecution.I have made friends and encouraged other Christians around the world thanks to vrchat.The developers that I met have always been friendly and kind.Praise Jesus!

  • Blinko23

    Good grief. This clip is an example of “disrespectful or harmful behavior?”

    The VR world *should be* dangerous and edgy. If you want “safe and respectful” that’s what our real world, politically correct, inhumanely stifling society is for!

    VR social media should create a single “safe space” subset within their apps for all the namby pamby babies to hang out in. Then leave the larger space for everyone else – a space where just about anything is allowed to happen.

    Personally, I don’t want or need any bloody safe spaces in VR. Give me dangerous spaces any day of the week. It’s VIRTUAL for heaven’s sake!!!

    • Bundy

      I have no problem with you and your ilk all inhabiting the same space.

  • Firestorm185

    explosive growth, only if you kno de wae

    • Firestorm185

      Not saying all of the meme is good… I’m just another sonic fan. x3

  • Ellie 187

    How about fixing a priority issue with VR Chat??? It runs so terrible and way below 90fps, even on my more than competent system…. When VR Chat first launched it ran great, but an update a few months ago made it an unplayable mess…. No other VR games give me any issues.

    • PK

      the main hub is very laggy, at least at first, maybe other high traffic areas too but since I stay away from those I don’t notice vrchat running slow. there are times when they have trouble keeping up with the growing numbers but for the most part i can go into some highly detailed environments with friends and it’s fine, and i don’t have the fastest graphics card. also many of us who have been using it for a while don’t spend a lot of time in the busier public spaces, at least until things calm down a bit.

  • care package

    Their only hope would be to do what game devs are doing. As much as they can to get people to play together while extremely limiting communication tools. In other words VR chat without the chat.

  • wazthatme

    “toxic online culture” yea no shit its the fucking internet you dumb cunts XD

    • PK

      i thought upload readers were more reasonable and less belligerent than this. i’m sure most of them are.

      • Michael

        We are reasonable, but he’s being frank. No one really cares about your feelings. I want my free and open chat, it looks like that will go away because some dumb woman had her feelings hurt. Hooray for feminism.

        • PK

          Free and open? So you think it’s cool for someone to walk into the middle of a crowded bar, where people are hanging out with friends, and just start calling people cunts? What about a grocery store? Where’s your line, when citizens of a society should hold back on whatever thought crosses their mind? If everyone had this attitude the world would be a very unpleasant place. Say what you like in private, or write a book and release it on Amazon for whoever wants to buy it. But vrchat is a public space that has a lot more benefit if people act like they would in any other gatherings.

          • Michael

            Yes, free and open. I’m sorry for your loss, but in VRChat you can block them, this woman is here only because she wants to ruin things. You can block them, we’re in VRChat because it’s not a crowded bar, it’s not a hanging out with friends in real life, it’s not a grocery store.

            This is VR, you can block people. There are no exceptions, if it’s not free and open, I hope your game dies. And I know it will, it always does as history shows. So yeah, I’m going to be supporting more open solutions, but let’s just hope the VRChat dev is only BSing to quiet the feminazis.

          • PK

            Well that’s the problem, you view this as an anarchistic forum where you can troll people without any real life consequences. You don’t realize or don’t care that for many of us in VR, or many on desktop as well, we’re immersed to the degree that virtually spitting on us is just as bad as doing it in person. And if that’s something you think is okay to do in person, or anywhere, then you’ll have to deal with the consequences. Luckily for people like this in vrchat so far there’s nothing stopping you from being a dick, however these places will evolve and we’ll have reputation systems and the motivation to say and do whatever you want will go down.

          • wazthatme

            GET FUCKED! Grow up and grow a pair cuz in the real world people say mean things. I will always say what I want and no NAZI like you is going to stop me.

          • Bundy

            Until then, just do what I did. For all the guys in this thread spouting this nonsense, block them. Then every time they try to say something all you’ll see is “This user is blocked” and you never have to read their stupidity again. Let them scream into the void.

          • PK

            yeah i personally don’t have to deal with much, however when friends go on for the first time without me they may or may not have a pleasant experience. i know you can start with everyone muted but it would be so much nicer of there weren’t people who treated this as an excuse to roleplay their darkest leanings.

          • Bundy

            Yup, and then they go to places like this and try to justify them.

          • wazthatme

            Yea if you want to walk around calling people a cunt sure go for it. Thats why we have free speech in the US I can say what ever I feel as long as its not like “Hey go burn down that house” or “go kill that guy”.

        • PK

          Also that sounds like something a psychopath would say. Deciphering feelings in other people, and responding to them, that’s called empathy and is such a highly intelligent process that our best AI can’t replicate it yet. This is can be faked by those without empathy but to do it for real you have to care.

          • wazthatme

            Why would I care about I dont know you so why waste my time caring about you? You could die tomorrow and I would not give two fucks and dont act like you would care about a random person dying cuz you would be full of shit.

      • Bundy

        A lot of jackholes on here.

  • DinoHunter

    Kinda sucks for the fans of this game who have VR headsets. It was a fun intellectual place before the tween pancake gamers showed up in hordes. We watched a cool game literally turn to a pile of laggy toxic shit in a few weeks.

    • Michael

      I own a VR Headset and I honestly don’t mind. I keep to my friends and make new friends but regularly get ‘harassed’ but I actually make fun of all situations and leave if it ever got too much in the way of my other interactions. At the end of the day, VRChat will get replaced VERY fast if it starts to censor.

    • Bundy

      Yup, exactly.

  • Michael

    I play this game for plenty of fun and freedom, I swear if they start censorship and actual moderation that’s the end of it. I’ve dealt with far more than this woman ever has, but guess what? I don’t even view it as dealing with anything, whilst I don’t partake in all the trolling and games, I don’t actually care or mind, even when they bug me.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t believe in destroying other’s fun because my feelings were hurt.