Ferris, Kerry O.
M.A. (Master of Arts)
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
Miran, Raymond James, "Virtual Faces in Virtual Spaces: Generating Social Capital in an online World" (2020). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 7453.
Northern Illinois University
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