NYU’s virtual reality grad celebration was creepy and barren — I walked around in an angry-looking avatar and almost no one showed up

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NYU's virtual reality grad celebration was creepy and barren — I walked around in an angry-looking avatar and almost no one showed up
  • Theo Wayt is a reporter who’s written for the Associated Press, NBC News, The New York Post, Vice, and Gothamist; he also recently graduated from New York University.
  • NYU was the first to host a virtual reality graduation party, allowing 2020 graduates to fly around a simulated “Virtual Reality Grad Alley.”
  • 2020 graduates could design avatars and interact with each other in blocky version of New York City hotspots, but very few people showed up.
  • The school’s administration said there will be an in-person commencement ceremony once the pandemic passes, and students are saying NYU should do more to support students now.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Universities around the world have canceled, postponed, or modified graduation plans due to the coronavirus pandemic. But as far as I know, my school, New York University, was the first to host a virtual reality graduation party. 

Theo Wayt

The author, Theo Wayt.

Theo Wayt


On the day before graduation during years when there aren’t deadly pandemics, NYU typically hosts a “grad alley” celebration, a massive block party in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park. But since New York City is still under lockdown and NYU students like me have dispersed across the world, the university wanted to find a way to let graduates “make some last NYU memories together,” according to an official NYU email.