A group of metaverse users on the platform called VRChat have created a police force for themselves. The police officers have taken to the metaverse to play the role of police and have been responsible for questioning, arresting, and occasionally framing other users for crimes. Yes, you read that right, frame others users for crime in the metaverse. It turns out that these VR users turned cops in the metaverse may just have a corrupt mindset just as real cops do. These users turned cops have been identified to do these using avatars of under-aged female anime characters. Today, this feels like one of the interesting things you’ll find people involved with on the Metaverse.
According to reports via Inputmag, this group started in 2018 as a joke amongst friends and has since grown to boast of almost 11,000 LPD Discord members thereby becoming the most popular police roleplay community on VRChat. The group has also adopted the name, The Loli Police Department (LPD). The name was gotten from “lolis” – often used by the young-looking cartoon girl members.
A Scottish student by the name of Jura, whose a member of the platform and participates in the role play narrates some of the activities that take place on the platform. The Scottish student says that “We have two-hour patrols where we break up into squads, go out into the world of VRChat, and interact with people to start roleplays.” Jura is a sergeant in LPD and even runs a training program for new recruits. There are dispatchers on the platform, as well. Usually “They use sound effects to make it sound like they’re talking to people through the radio,” he says.
LPD, an all-volunteer force that exists in the metaverse, has continued to evolve year in year out. Members of the group are known to move through the ranks, an example is from intern to top cop based on their activity level. Their activity level is usually tracked across the group’s Discord. Everything on this group has been carefully organized so much that they ultimately imitate the real cops.
Another LPD member by the name Carrett, whose an LPD Captain and also a game developer in real life, has been responsible for designing the LPD station and prison. He says “We have some of our own worlds, like our medical department hospital, where we can pretend someone is getting treatment or the prison where we put criminals.” Carrett, says the volunteers’ hard work allows users to role-play police activities seamlessly like in the real world.
Carrett has revealed that one of the favourite things to do on VR is messing randomly with users. Carrett explained that a lot of people in the VRChat platform like to sit in front of mirrors.” Once such happens, “I’m going to go up to the mirror and do a mirror check.” Then I say it’s an illegal mirror and start looking for someone to blame and arrest. A number of persons don’t just know how to deal with that,” Asides from that, Carrett further explains that there are other ways to get people into trouble, too. “I can take out a bag of weeds and make it look like it just came out of someone’s pocket,” Carrett says. “They always say it’s not theirs.”
A member of LPD, Hrólfur says that a number of challenges come along with being a VRChat police officer. He discloses that the role-playing style of framing people on spot checks and drug detection which is supposed to be a harmless pleasure – doesn’t fit well with some members of the community and as a result, “We are being abused.” He recalls in the year 2020, when there was police violence in the United States, a handful of people use and respond to police on the platform with obscene words, like ‘fuck the police.’ Oftentimes than not the LPD Cop receive pushback from users who over time have harboured anti-police sentiments and are quick to show it freely.
Despite the various power dynamics that the game presents, LPD members are sometimes not allowed to serve or enjoy being intermediaries in the VR world and that ultimately stands in the way of the real change the platform stands to achieve. Carrett narrates an experience “One of our new officers came to me upset because they intervened when they saw the harassment, but then they were attacked by the harasser,” says Carrett. “I complimented him, but that’s not what we do. We’re just trying to have fun. So usually when we’re faced with something like that, we just leave the world.”
Carrett believes that LPD can bring about change to its community in a number of ways if allowed to. Starting with helping out new users, giving them helping hands and helping them understand how things work can be a starting point he says. LPD used to run events for this purpose but was recently discontinued. “The events are in a hiatus because it has become a bit cult. Everyone has been trying to recruit people into LPD.”
Asides from trying to depict real-world experiences in LPD, the game has also presented users with some real-world advantages. Carrett explains “I went to school for game development but was never able to get a job in the industry because I didn’t have examples of my work. I got my current job because people saw what I did in LPD,” says Carrett, who now works in 3D design. It’s believed that LPD members get opportunities to build soft skills that are helpful in numerous ways. “A lot of people, when they first join LPD, are really shy. At the end of it, they are completely out of their shell, and can talk to complete strangers.” A typical example of such transformation is Jura, one of who has developed his social skills. He says “I was definitely shyer before LPD, especially online. It made it easier for me to make friends and relationships.”
The student has now developed his confidence so much that he went ahead citing the project management and leadership experience he gained from being on the force LPD in his college scholarship applications,. “Although it seems strange – looking at the source of the skills – it definitely improved things for me,” he says. Even though there’s always stuff unfolding on the metaverse that comes as weird, dark, and unexpected, the metaverse still presents a number of ways that allow users to truly transform who they are.