Beat Saber's online play feature may have had a "happy accident", and created an incredibly friendly online community.
by flipperpa on April 4, 2021, 2:07 p.m.Virtual Reality
I’ve been a virtual reality enthusiast for many years, since it became a buzzword during the early 1990s. I saw Lawnmower Man in the theater, and was a part of early virtual communities such as ActiveWorlds. I had fifteen minutes of internet fame when I became the first person to successfully sell real world items (video cards and monitors) for a game currency.
Second Life was such an amazing place to be when it started; it was the ultimate blank canvas for dreamers. You could build and collaborate in real time, and there was this sense that we were all pieces of this shared artwork that was constantly in motion. Back in 2003, most of the regulars knew each other, like a small town, with the friendships and rivalries that came with it.
After many enjoyable years being heavily involved in Second Life, I took some time away. I got very involved in the Python and Django communities, got sober, and rediscovered my love for all things coding. When the latest wave of virtual reality headsets started to appear, such as the original Oculus and HTC Vive, I was a bit skeptical. But the technology had finally start to catch up to the dream of immersion. After my friend Saron Itbarek had me over with some friends during a visit to San Diego, the assembled party tried out her HTC Vive, many being immersed for the first time. After some sage-like advice from her partner Robert, I got my own HTC Vive, and a few months later, I found I was using it enough to warrant purchasing a Valve Index.
I was never taken by rhythm games like Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero in the past, but Beat Saber has not only become what I spend most of my virtual reality time doing, it is my exercise routine. It has me in the best shape of my life. I do about thirty minutes of intense mixed cardio every morning.
Recently, Beat Saber introduced an online head-to-head mode, where up to five players can play head-to-head with the same song. It may be by complete accident, but it seems like they may have made the friendliest online community I have ever been a part of:
This has led to a rich language of gestures evolving: players enthusiastically wave hello when a new player joins the game. It is common to see people clapping to the person who won the round, and the winner graciously taking a “namaste” bow. People wave goodbye, and gesture up to the center board in between songs to encourage a newcomer to select the song they would like to play next.
It is incredibly friendly and warm. Has Beat Saber accidentally stumbled on a wonderful way for us to communicate in games? There’s zero moderation necessary, and a language has started to evolve which brings no stress or drama, only positive emotions. It has been heartening to see.