I'm Vryheid (formerly known as GameMiestro) and I joined the forums here in 2003 looking for tips on catching the Regi trio in Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. Back then the community was quite different than it is now- individual gaming boards existed for practically every Nintendo franchise filled with various in-depth discussion topics, though it always felt a lot more casual and less hypercompetitive than modern megaboards like Gamefaqs. The other big appeal for me was that my family was constantly moving around the country for job reasons, and I began to view VGChat as a "home away from home" of sorts. Keep in mind this was before sites like Reddit, Twitter or even Facebook existed- entrenched social cliques and social media etiquette were still far in their infancy. The site was filled with a lot of 12-15 year old gamers trying their hand at an online message board for the first time while viewing Jesse as a quasi-mythical figure who's divine touch somehow kept the whole ship running.
These cliques I mentioned always existed in some form or another on VGC, but rapidly became more aggressive and toxic around the same time as the big forum revamp (around 2005) which coincidentally was also around the same time membership numbers began to plummet. I didn't handle the situation particularly well, as it was a time in my life where I just had been forced to move to a borderline abusive high school and no longer having the boards as an easy form of casual socialization left me feeling cheated. I became significantly more cynical and began to think that the forum was being deliberately turned into a shithole by a group of self-entitled jackasses who's only concept of good video games was whatever propaganda was shat at them from the front pages of Nintendo Power. Instead of realizing what's obvious now (most of these "edgy" posters were just other teens who's entire online perspective was shaped from early 4chan) I isolated myself from most of the community, occasionally trying to start some serious discussions in the Pokemon or Metroid boards while spending most of my time on the RPG Inferno project that Jesse had installed. Bazariah-another forum vet- and I had a serious rivalry in this game for some time (and we did many PvP matches) which was probably one of the highlights of this era for me.
Around 2006 I gave up on the site entirely and jumped around the internet for a few years, eventually spending a few years helping to design a very complex RPG Inferno quest on a popular Final Fantasy themed forum Unlike on VGChat this version of Inferno was much more advanced and had features such as team battles, quests, NPCs and distinct cities to explore. Unfortunately there was no Jesse Smith on this site to magically keep all the staff in line and the site leadership regularly descended into petty bickering that I ended up getting caught up in. After eventually resigning I was an on and off participant and HTML designer for a very popular roleplay forum until a 40-something lady decided to buy off the adminship and wanted to commercialize the site. At this point I deliberately got myself banned and floated around for a while making sponsored Youtube videos and trying out different MMOs until I went back to VGChat in around 2009.
This time is when I also started posting in the Pokemon chat. I started off simply requesting Fnool to do something about the out of control spam and borderline-psychopaths who were bent on terrorizing the site (if you've read Aleck's posts you're already familiar with one of them). His response was to give me total moderator control on the chats, which began what was easily the most defining period in my entire VGChat posting career. I could write several pages on the convoluted drama and Game of Thrones-level schemes and factionalism I had to weave my way through over the next couple years just to keep the chat community from imploding on itself after Aleck was also made mod. In short, the general consensus I've heard from other members was that my influence on the chat was entertaining, but more than a little problematic. Looking back I'm inclined to agree, but I feel like one of my big accomplishments that's easy to overlook now was pushing the chat community to get involved on the forums and vice-versa. Before I started posting in the chat there was basically no interactivity between the forum and chat communities at all, and I feel like my efforts helped significantly in bridging that gap.
I feel like the chat and forum is slowly beginning to grow back towards that casual socialization that made me enjoy it in the first place, and all it needs is some improved infrastructure and more activity to bring it back to life again. Since Jesse seems to be doing his wizardry behind the scenes these days I don't know if there's much specifically we can do to help, but I'd certainly be open to making content if there's ever some form of tips and tricks page like the very old school World of Nintendo/VGChat website.