Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ferris, Kerry O.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


This thesis examines how online virtual reality games can generate social capital in the

social video game VRChat. Past research explores the generation of social capital from social

media and video games. These platforms generate social capital through different processes.

These differences are due to the technological differences and divergent purposes of the

platforms. VRChat bridges the computer-mediated-communication platforms as a social video

game. This thesis examines how VRChat as an online virtual reality generates bridging and

bonding online social capital by combining elements of the two platforms.

Results from 21 in-depth interviews showed that players of VRChat generated both

bridging and bonding social capital, with an emphasis on bridging social capital. Bridging social

capital was generated due to the game’s focus of having players meet strangers with the purpose

of chatting and connecting. This resulted in players meeting people from different place and

developing relationships with them. Bonding social capital was developed as players expressed

being able to find comfort, connect, and find emotional support amongst strangers. This is due to

the game’s ability to develop relationships online and, surprisingly, the player’s anonymity

online giving opportunity for them to express themselves more freely. These findings contribute

to the body of research on the generation of social capital by connecting two separate computermediated-communication platforms and expanding the knowledge of potential ways virtual

reality as a computer-mediated-communication technology may generate social capital. Future

research should expand the sample and look into the player’s real-world backgrounds,

confirming the diversity of players in-game. Additionally, it should make further connections to

the complex relationship individual’s real-world identity connects with their in-game identity

and the relationships developed as a result. Lastly, future research should also investigate the

depth of the relationships developed online and the variety of online platforms players connect



78 pages




Northern Illinois University

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Media Type


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Sociology Commons