It’s like The Deer Hunter, but sexy, like speed dating, offers quantity over quality

The Gateway

EDMONTON (CUP) – There’s always a rush in spinning a roulette wheel, banking on odds governed only by the sheer will of the fates. Chatroulette takes that thrill and offers a strangely voyeuristic web experience.

The premise: click the “Play” button on and you’re randomly paired with one of the thousands of Internet strangers logged in with you. 

The twist: in addition to a one-on-one chat room, video and audio are the main focus, offering a brief glance into another individual’s physical space. If you decide that you don’t like who you’ve been matched with, simply click the “Next” button — with a user base now well into the tens of thousands, there are no repercussions for basing an impression solely on a first glance.

The site isn’t without its share of unfiltered web content, either. Like predecessors, Chatroulette blazes a new frontier where users and content arrive before moderation. 

As a result, it’s not uncommon to be subjected to a variety of mature imagery, including goatse and tubgirl shock images, and hundreds of faceless men who’d prefer to introduce themselves by beating their meat instead of shaking your hand.

That said, if you’re at all acquainted with the net’s lewdest content, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. In fact, much of the fun can come from out-trolling the trolls, donning masks — literal or otherwise — and playing characters in a fleeting interaction that’s sure to only last a few minutes before vanishing into the ether.

Even better — beyond all of the cocks, shocks and lolcats, it’s still possible to meet an interesting stranger and have a decent conversation about anything from the weather, to politics, to an obscure band that only you and seven other people have heard of. 

In this sense, it’s the ultimate icebreaker: a consequence-free, no-strings-attached conversation generator that works a hell of a lot better than practising in front of a mirror.

Published in Volume 64, Number 21 of The Uniter (March 4, 2010)

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