Alone together: my weird morning in a virtual reality chatroom

Mark Zuckerberg says virtual social worlds could be the future. But what’s it actually like in one? Keith Stuart visits AltSpace and finds the experience … odd

I’m standing in front of a decorative garden talking to a guy from Germany about PC specifications. This is not really what I was hoping for from the future of online social communication.

The place I’m in is AltSpace, a virtual reality social world. It was launched in 2013 by AltSpaceVR, a small startup based in Redwood City, California. Although it’s early days for virtual reality as a consumer phenomenon, there’s been a lot of interest in the idea of virtual chatrooms – AltSpace VR has already attracted more than $15m (£10.6m) in venture capital funding, and Mark Zuckerberg has talked about multi-user VR as the future of social media. There are alternatives to AltSpace, such as vTime and VRChat but this one is getting a lot of interest due to its multi-platform compatibility and array of features. That’s why I decided to don a HTC Vive and spend an hour in the virtual world of chat.

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