There's no getting around the fact that VR social networks usually make you look kind of silly. At best, you're a lower-resolution version of a Second Life avatar. At worst, you're a horrifying floating devil head. So before we go any further, look at the image above, understand exactly what you're getting into, and walk away if absolutely necessary. It's not going to convince anybody that virtual reality is finally hip.
If you're still reading, that shot is from AltspaceVR, an interesting little virtual world that's officially coming to Samsung's Gear VR today. As we've written before, AltspaceVR is something like Second Life, but it's focused almost exclusively on shared experiences rather than crafting or commerce. The avatars above are stylized in order to avoid any dips into the uncanny valley, but they're surprisingly good at mimicking body language — on Gear VR, your virtual head turns alongside your real one, and you move around a room by staring at a space and tapping to teleport forward.
AltspaceVR can be used for casual socializing, but recently, it's best known for its events. Last year, it organized what was probably the world's first virtual reality Dungeons & Dragons tournament, and it invited journalists to participate in a virtual press conference to announce its Gear VR alpha testing. It regularly holds streaming parties for e-sports tournaments. More recently, it's hosted a virtual reality improv comedy night, and it keeps a calendar of future events on its website.
PC users have been able to use AltspaceVR for some time with the Oculus Rift DK2, and there's been limited testing of it on Gear VR. But this launch makes it far more broadly accessible. It will join a handful of other VR social apps that are currently in testing or released on Gear VR, including Oculus' own social experience and the vTime conferencing system.