My interest in VRChat was mainly because of Hikky's Virtual Market. I have yet to explore many beautiful worlds in the platform, but it's only during Virtual Market season that I open VRChat.
Unlike last Summer where I tagged along with ShioriPon and Ratanak, I went all by myself. This season, VKet featured more VTubers, brought new activities, and featured different areas of Japan.
I got my own avatar from ReadyPlayer.me, which gives my experience a more personal touch. Of course, we have the usual VR selfie photos using the camera VKet provides to everyone. We'll explore the corporate booths first:
There are lots of VTuber standees at Parareal Paris and Parareal Nagoya, and over time I've learned a thing or two about some of these areas:
- I was made aware of SO.ON project LaV through my visit at Parareal Paris. This project comes from the Osaka School of Music (OSM), an advanced studies school, which has a course on Virtual Artists.
- TV Asahi, which has updated their TV programming to add VTuber content, was also present at Parareal Paris, featuring shows such as Gariben Girl V and the long-running Music Station. If you're a fan of M-Sta, you'll be happy to hear its theme song.
- Idol group Enogu, who participated at Tokyo Idol Festival 2022, has a separate VRChat world where you can watch them perform for you and your friends.
- Re:AcT, one of Japan's well-known VTuber groups, greets you as you pass through Parareal Nagoya. I met the members of ReAliz, Kaleidscope, Parfait and Sinkirow just before I get to the town proper.
- Inside Central Japan Railway Company's Nagoya station is a booth where VTubers such as Fuji Aoi, YuNi, the Omega Sisters and Chukyo TV announcer L Otsuta (大蔦エル) are featured alongside Nagoya's delicacies.
Parareal Nagoya had a lot of activities which made me busy throughout my stay there:
- Disney+ series Gannibal provides an interactive storytelling setup which will give you a rundown of its story from a first-person view.
- SMBC's "VPoint Hunter" shooting range gives you a VR replica of their credit cards once you reach a set amount of VPoints.
- You can also see Parareal Nagoya in a different view by climbing on top of the Nagoya station.
- Speaking of Nagoya station, you can ride the shinkansen bullet train and hop onto another to go to another station.
- Before I forget, Aqours from Love Live! Sunshine!! also has a booth inside the station.
Parareal Sapporo has a skating rink—with matching skating shoes! (subject to avatar compatibility)
There are two areas at Parareal Paris which definitely caught my attention:
- Alpine returns with their winter camping setup, which lets you fold/unfold those tables and chairs for that life-like camping feel. They also asked visitors to pick which VTuber design will suit their brand.
- Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities sports sled slope at their booth, which can be accessed by going to the middle of their virtual trading floor.
Lastly, VKet worlds are so interactive that some of them have quests in it:
- At the end of your journey to Sweet x2 Tea Party, the king will check if you've "eaten" a lot.
- Madam Colt's Wunderkammer gives you a thrill as you go along each diary entry scattered inside.
- I enjoyed Tetherford the best—aside from talking to NPCs about cybernetics, there's a hidden quest where you help someone get aboard a spaceship.
What's In Store for VR Fashion and Function?
I have this idea that shops participating at Virtual Market set trends for what VR fashion currently looks like. Here's what I've seen throughout my visits at various Vket worlds:
...of course, there are other booths which are quirky enough to capture my attention:
I've completed my Virtual Market experience within a few nights of logging in to VRChat, and I'm definitely happy exploring each area. The next VKet is set to happen Summer next year, and I'm ecstatic for its return.