Based on what the director captured in the world, it can be seen that the vast majority of users adopt avatars that look like female anime characters with animal ears and/or tails. There are outliers like the 3D instance of Kermit the Frog or a Gremlin, but the vast majority choose aesthetically impressive figures as their vehicles to navigate this world.
From the beginning, 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 uses of this online realm. She spends her time as this version of herself teaching ASL to an entire class of virtual students who are learning not only 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 affection that can arise between people here, Hunting follows DragonHeart and IsYourBoitwo users who in real life live thousands of kilometers apart, but who have fallen in love over a year and a half of constant contact in VRChat.
These CG environments offer a place where all these presumably young individuals can free themselves from the expectations that society places on their gender, their sexual identity and their bodies. Entering VRChat is a rebirth, an opportunity to start over with no baggage and visually present more authentically, even if that means becoming a voluptuous animated entity or a colorful anthropomorphic fur 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 meaning and individuals get to know each other solely by basis of their personalities. But while the utopian possibilities of this futuristic interpretation of interpersonal understanding are impressive, 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 frustratingly, the director chose not to provide any context as to how this room works, the devices required for users to join this alternate life, the time commitment, or any of the potential negative side effects that this extra existence has about its participants’ offline relationship. Heralding VRChat as a miraculous invention, he makes the film skin-deep.