“We have a regrettable and costly tendency, here in Maine, to divide ourselves by town or region, party affiliation or philosophy, income, and whether we’re natives or folks ‘from away.’”
- Brookings Report Findings, 2006
Altspace VR, a high profile social VR startup, has closed its doors. The company aimed to break into the potential of high end VR as a social tool, but was met with numerous struggles, including Facebook introducing themselves as a competitor, and the instability of the still growing VR install base. My project is also focusing on social VR, but has a bigger emphasis on the gamification of meeting new people.
Oculus has shut down their internal Oculus Story Studio, which was focused on proving VR’s ability as a storytelling medium. While this seems like a bad sign at first, this article frames the news by saying that the studio served its purpose, by showing innovative filmmakers that VR stories are possible. Oculus has said that it is investing $250 million towards other non-game experiences, with $50 million of that being strictly devoted to VR films. My project falls into the category of being not quite a game, but not quite an app either, so it’s heartening to see more money being invested into this area.
A new show for Facebook has people going on blind dates using VR. While this setup has the two people wearing headsets in the same room, it shows that the sense of presence in VR is still powerful enough to allow people to somewhat naturally communicate through it, which is very integral to my project.
Altspace VR – Also focuses on social VR, but has a wider scope than my project. Altspace simulates a public space, while I will be simulating a private space. Altspace is also less game-oriented.
SportsBar VR – This VR social space allows users to interact with each other, rewards them for playing games together, and gives them freedom to mess around if they choose. All of these are great aspects that I also want to achieve, but by adding some restrictions, such as limiting voice chat, I hope to give a more directed experience.
Google Earth VR – While this isn’t social at all, it does give users an incredible sense of wonder regarding how huge and varied the world is. Google Earth reminds users that there are people who live in places that they couldn’t even imagine. I hope to be able to express the same feeling with my project.