Chat Roulette is the latest darling of the internet community. Connecting you, via webcam, with random users from around the world, it takes all that is miserable, squalid and immoral debauched about the internet, and conveniently gathers them in one place. At the slightest hesitation or lull in conversation you or they have the power to ‘next’ them into oblivion, never to be seen again. Naturally, I had to get this projected on the wall and invite a bunch of people round to celebrate my birthday.
You don’t need an economics degree to guess what type of users we encountered most frequently. The original idea was to get everyone downing a shot each time they saw a guy’s junk, but we would have ended up completely hammered in 15 minutes. What we did do, was settle on a system of serve, volley, smash that had myself and most of the party howling with such belly-aching laughter that the police arrived to break us up. It only seems fair to share our process:
1. Combine Webcam and Lamp into a ‘Weblamp’
We set up the web cam attached to my desk lamp, so the spotlight, quite literally, was on you while filming was taking place; is there a product idea in there? This gave everything the element of theatre, as the spotlight swung around the room in search of its next victim.
2. Get any guys away from the webcam
Sorry fellas; when the camera was on us, we would get ‘nexted’ within fractions of a second. Since most of Chatroulette is frequented by guys in their underpants, this comes as little surprise. Get rid of the guys from the initial view.
3. Recruit some girls; preferably dressed as nurses
In the invite, I asked everyone to wear something silly, or bring some sort of disguise. Georg’s girlfriend, Sharo, dived in feet first, and came dressed as a nurse, and simply ruled the party. As soon as we shifted focus onto these guys, the retention rate of users went sky high, and we instead could begin the hunt for some unsuspecting prey.
4. Delegate typing to a third-party.
The second element in our armoury was Armando, who first crafted coquettish, flirtatious come-ons for the guys on the other end of the tube. Lulled into a false sense of security, they must have thought they had found Chatroulette utopia … but this all ended abruptly when Armando begin unleashing vitriolic Chinglish slurs in their direction; “show me your eyeballs gothy man!”
5. When ready, unleash a German with a fake willy.
Georg delivered the fatal blow, time after time, jumping onto screen with a hideous fake willy attached to the front of his apron. Playing the role perfectly, the room repeatedly erupted in laughter and screams, as the faces of the victims either dropped in disgust, or split with their own laughter.
6. Let the room say ‘hello!’
If the person was game and stuck around, this was a perfect moment to invite the rest of the room to say hello. We got some appreciative thumbs up, waves, and then sent them on their way with a deftly timed ‘next!’
It was certainly an unusual party, and one that I am pretty sure we will not be repeating (!). At least while the paint was fresh on the website, it was dead good fun to get involved. It was interesting to see how much it felt like being on the internet in the early days again, what with the clandestine chats, poor connection and frequent crashes. Gotta say – thanks to Georg and the girls for being such good sports, and Abe and Armando for going to all the trouble of printing life-size photos of me, with three different lengths of moustache, no less.
Some more photos of the chaos: