Every so often, something hits you like a sucker punch to the gut. This is one of those times.
Somebody alerted me to this brand new, investigative-documentary-style video on YouTube, and I started watching it this evening. Even before I had reached the halfway point of the video, I knew I had to stop watching and write this blogpost.
While it is titled The Dark Side of Virtual Reality, this one-hour-48-minute video is entirely about a single social VR platform, VRChat. The creator is a man by the name of BrandonFM (his channel only has 3 videos so far; after I finish watching this, I will be watching his two earlier videos, which appear to be on similar topics to this new one).
WARNING: This YouTube video covers some very disturbing topics! Consider yourself forewarned.
Brandon’s video talks about the hidden adult content in VRChat, which I have written about before here (that paywalled Patreon-exclusive blogpost’s content is safe for work, and DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY LINKS TO NSFW VRCHAT WORLDS, so if you’re hoping to find some smut, save your money!). And I am ashamed to admit that I’ve even written fairly recently about the Nevermet app, which is briefly mentioned in this video.*
This is a NSFW VRChat which I had suspected to exist, based on the previous blogpost, but had never actually set (virtual) foot in. But I never knew about some of the darkest depths uncovered by Brandon—particularly where it involves minors. (He uses the word “degenerate” a lot in this video, and it’s the appropriate word.)
In 2007, Second Life underwent a public relations disaster when this sort of behaviour was discovered happening on its platform, as I have written (item #4 on the list of scandals and controversies in SL):
The virtual pedophilia uncovered by two different news reporters in Second Life was a public relations disaster of the highest order for Linden Lab…Linden Lab responded to the crisis by creating an official Ageplay Policy, where people involved in ageplay and virtual pedophilia activities were banned from the platform.
Well, it would appear that a similar scandal will soon befall VRChat, once the major news media latch onto this story (and believe me, they will!). And, once again, a metaverse platform is going to be in the glare of the media spotlight, and have to scramble to address a public relations disaster.
I’m going to post this, then finish watching this video, then I will add some more of my thoughts.
* I did explicitly warn the people behind the Nevermet app that they needed to pay attention to the serious problem of potentially underage users setting up profiles. Now that I am watching Brandon’s documentary, I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’m going to finish watching this video, then I might make some decisions about what to do about my review of Nevermet, in light of the information Brandon has reported. (and for that matter, any content discussing adult content in VRChat on this blog). I’m actually quite upset at the moment, but I am going to finish watching Brandon’s video first.