Ever since it's beta release in February of last year, VRChat has dominated as one of the world's most popular virtual reality hangout spaces. VRChat is somewhat similar to MMORPG platforms, such as Second Life, in that users are able to select pretty much any 3D character model as their main avatar. VRChat has been in the spotlight in the past few weeks due to the popularity of the Ugandan Knuckles meme, but recently, something much more serious has happened in this game.
Last Friday, an otherwise normal day in VRChat's digital hangout space was disrupted when the avatar of user, who goes by the handle DrunkenUnicyclist, suddenly collapsed onto the ground. DrunkenUnicyclist, who was wearing a full-body VR suit while he played VRChat, was having a seizure. In this disturbing video of the event, several other players crowd around DrunkenUnicyclist's avatar while it copies the motions of his attack. From the context of the video, it's very clear that the other players are unsure of what to do to help as they listen to DrunkenUnicyclist's labored breathing. After a few tense minutes, DrunkenUnicyclist regains consciousness.
This incident has brought to light issues of safety in VRChat. It's unclear if DrunkenUnicyclist's medical emergency was caused by his use of VR technology, as seizures can sometimes be triggered by intense visual stimuli, or if this was just a sudden and unrelated incident. Either way, after this frightening event, many VRChat users have called for medical emergency procedures to be put in place.
In response to this video, Ron Millar, VRChat's chief creative officer, has implied that he's somewhat skeptical about the overall legitimacy of this incident. It's well known that VRChat is a space inhabited by trolls, so it wouldn't be too far of a reach to consider the fact that this entire incident could have been a prank. However, VRChat users who claim to know DrunkenUnicyclist believe that his attack was legitimate.
Regardless of whether or not DrunkenUnicyclist's attack was the real deal, this incident has highlighted a clear oversight in regards to player safety in VR environments. It's clear that there's a need for some kind of system to help users report when other players are possibly unwell or in danger.
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