All About Chatroulette

Heard of Chatroulette? If not, you undoubtedly will very soon. It’s the first big internet craze to come to prominence in 2010 and it’s a surprising one.


To the girl in this screengrab – I’m sure you’ll never read this, but sorry for using your image… tho srsly – how could I resist using this one amongst all the men with hungry looks on their shady faces.


What is it? It’s a very basic site that switches your webcam on, and shares it with another random user, whose webcam you can see. Whilst watching and hearing each other you can also exchange text chat messages. When either user clicks the ‘Next’ button the connection is severed and you are both instantly paired up with another random user. Repeat ad infinitum, or until you get sick of seeing hard cocks and guilty-looking, young men’s faces.

At the time of writing – 17:30 GMT, Saturday afternoon – 16,300 people were on Chatroulette. That might not sound a lot next to the millions of hits sites like MySpace.com and BBC.co.uk get each day but that’s just people on the site right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if their daily traffic is well into the millions.

I’m still pretty mystified by its spectacular ascent. It’s very reminiscent of the chatrooms that were so popular in the mid-nineties. Its appeal is obvious enough but why is this trending in 2010? 1999 maybe… 2002 at a push, but 2010? The year the iPad will revolutionise content consumption? The year OnLive might (and I mean might) open up the ability to play any multiplayer video game from any computer? The year that Google’s dizzying array of disparate products start to form into a mighty beast that will dominate social media, the web, computing and broadband? Well yes, people like to see people. People like to see freaks and be surprised by who they might find. “Who might they find?” I hear you clamour. Well, in the interest of accurate reporting I just cycled through 70 cams (I planned on seeing 100 but started to feel ill). Here’s a summary:

As we can see it’s mostly boys, probably hoping to come across a beautiful girl who will chat to them and be their friend… oh and get naked and rub themsleves down with baby oil. I found only six girls but I must say that they all looked normal, sweet and attractive. There were four groups of mates and five guys with a handful of sausage (I suspect this would be more at a later time of day). I even saw a woman giving oral sex which for the time of day was admirable. Also, a lonely man with white hair and a bemused expression on his face made me chuckle. Whilst befuddled, he was obviously sticking with it, which I respect at his age. Finally, the four people I’ve labeled ‘broadcasters’ were 1. a rather good singer-songwriter 2. someone playing loud hip-hop videos on YouTube 3. a handwritten message promoting something in Russian and 4. a neck-down black & white shot of a body hanging by its neck in a room. This last one unnerved me a bit, well… a lot. It made sense – the perfect modern suicide and the best way to bring some attention to a hitherto lonely and ignored life. I panicked, and as I was wondering how I could help or report this to someone I got bumped. Someone had clicked ‘Next’. Just a prank. A good one. I’ll be having a go at that.

Well, enough from me. Go play at chatroulette.com ! It’ll be interesting to see where this one goes, whether it burns bright and burns out fast or whether it evolves and gets acquired by a bigger player (it seems too risky to get acquired but who knows?). If the elusive owners are seeing a couple of million daily hits and rising, they’re sitting on a tidy revenue stream with more ad and sponsorship potential than they’re currently exploiting with Google ads, I wonder if they’ve approached Logitech for sponsorship… or maybe even Fleshlight 😛

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