Chat Roulette

For this assignment, we were asked to review a form of synchronous communication. I rarely use chatting apps outside of Messages, so I decided to visit a site from the past. I have little history using Chat Roulette, but I remember when it first started gaining popularity. I decided to revisit the site, and see if it had changed.

chat roulette front page

Anonymous communication was not new at the time, but Chat Roulette drew a large audience from around the world ready to video-chat with random strangers. It bloomed with improved bandwidth and the exhibitionist nature of the internet. The experience includes the intimacy of seeing, hearing, and writing to someone, coupled with the safety-net of the ever-present "Next" button.

It's possible that the original idea for Chat Roulette was benevolent communication with people around the world. I planned to ask users what they thought the original intended use of the app was. I could only find one person willing to answer this question. He was a guy in Turkey named Jon. Just being able to have this conversation is actually a huge feat in synchronous communication.

A key characteristic of the app is the "anything goes" mentality. Though the design is minimal, the purpose of the site it made very clear. Before I could have an actual conversation with someone, I had to sift through many people asking to see my breasts, lots of fake photos, and many explicit acts. In the whole experience, I only met one live woman, but she also asked to see my chest.

There are some famous Chat Roulette moments. One user played piano while singing about the people he met.
freestyle piano

Other users would draw people they met.
drawing user

Some users made a game that tricked people into tilting their head.

Though I didn't encounter any of these experiences, I'm pleased to report Chat Roulette is alive and well, just as we left it years ago.