Exploring VR platforms
In search of a suitable platform hosting the ARTverse project (06.06.2024)
Förderjahr 2023 / Projekt Call #18 / ProjektID: 6899 / Projekt: ARTverse

With ARTverse, we aim to provide an integrated environment for the creation, exhibition and education of art. We want to advance the landscape of virtual interactions within this field.

Finding an appropriate platform for our project turned out to be challenging.   


Change of plans

For ARTverse, our first idea was to use the platform Mozilla Hubs to host our spaces with different tools and experiments. Mozilla adheres to an open source policy and supports WebXR, thus providing access for XR devices in a web browser. However, Mozilla Hubs will shut down its services by the end of May 2024. Although the possibility to use the open source code and self-host a website with distinctive spaces will remain, we have decided to look for an alternative to establish our project. We have chosen VRChat, a platform based on creativity and active user exchange. 

VRChat allows the design of avatars and unique worlds and has a large, growing user community. Its code is not open source, but the VR platform provides access to its SDK and the Unity project to develop new worlds and create avatars. ARTverse will be open source and allow users to recreate or adapt the assets and features we configure.


Privacy and security issues

An important aspect to note is that regardless of the strong community bonds users can establish on such platforms, privacy and security issues are a major challenge in social virtual reality. Effective content moderation is already difficult for text and images, and VR poses even more challenges, with possible offensive language, hand gestures, and even problematic avatar characteristics. There have been several complaints about minors being exposed to sexual content and racist language in VRChat. To address these issues, the platform has several privacy status options. For example, it is possible to mute all other participants and not see their avatar characters to avoid interacting with strangers in public spaces. 

There are options to quickly report and mute users who misbehave. The platform also rewards users who are contributing actively for a long time without harming others; as a user's trust level increases, more avatar features are unlocked. Most importantly, new users start with a visitor status and cannot add new content until they have played a few hours without complaints from others. This prevents the use of bots to add harmful content, and hinders banned users from quickly returning to the system with the ability to create content.


VRChat as our platform choice

Besides these issues, research indicates that most VRChat users tend to establish private spaces that they share with others who have similar interests. The capacity to create private instances of worlds or share them only with friends, allows safer experiences with VR content. This trend not only fosters a sense of community, but also contributes to experiencing VR as safely as possible.


An immersive virtual environment filled with colorful 3D line drawings that look like a flower, a bee, and a rainbow.
First look at the ARTverse world in VRChat.



Virtual Reality
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