We Met in Virtual Reality movie review (2022)

Based on what the director captured entirely in-world, one can see that the vast majority of users adopt avatars that resemble female anime characters with animal ears and/or tails. There are outliers like the 3D embodiment of Kermit the Frog or a Gremlin, but the vast majority select aesthetically imposing figures as their vehicles to navigate this world.

From the onset, the filmmaker makes the community aspect of VRChat a clear focus. Among the handful of subjects he chose, Jenny is the poster child for the most altruistic of uses for this online kingdom. She spends her time as this version of herself teaching ASL to a full class of virtual students who are not only learning to sign, but to do so with the mobility limitations of their digital incarnations. Similarly, DustBunny, another young woman, teaches belly dancing.

To further illustrate the depth of the affection that can emerge between people on here, Hunting follows DragonHeart and IsYourBoi, two users who in real life live thousands of miles apart but have fallen in love over a year and a half of constant contact in VRChat.

These CG environments offer a place where all of these presumably young individuals can free themselves from the expectations that society imposes on their gender, their sexual identity, and their bodies. Entering VRChat is a rebirth, an opportunity to start over without baggage and visually present more authentically, even if that means becoming a voluptuous animated entity or a colorful anthropomorphic furry creature.

Their new form, detached from who they are behind the screen, allows for a purer mode of engagement between people, whether platonic or amorous, where gender, race, and physical appearance lose all importance and individuals get to know one another on the basis of their personalities. But while the utopian possibilities of this futuristic interpretation of interpersonal understanding impresses, it all seems unrealistically ideal.

Hunting’s overly positive portrayal of these online communities never once mentions how the platform deals with bullying or conflict. And even more frustrating is that the director opted not to provide any context as to how this space operates, the devices required for users to plug into this alternative life, the time commitment, or any of the potential negative side effects that this extra existence has on the offline relationships of its participants. By heralding VRChat as a miraculous invention, he renders the film skin-deep.

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