Tonight me and some good friends from college decided to hang out in VR, and while I was expecting it to be more of a novelty than a good way to connect, it turned out to be a lot more fun and dynamic than I was expecting. For our first VR hangout we decided to use Altspace VR, which looks a little bit like this:
We spent most of our time in a room like this where we could talk, watch You Tube videos, and play a variety of games they had built-into the room. I have to say that the games weren’t incredibly fun but they did make the room more entertaining. Also, not all of us had VR headsets so while some of us got the full VR experience, others viewed the 3D world through a computer screen which definitely was less immersive.
At one point we teleported to another world where there was 360 degree You Tube videos surrounding us, this was a bit more distracting than interesting. In the end we found ourselves in a flat world, a bit like the base layer of a Star Trek Holodeck just standing around and talking. When people spoke, the mouth on their avatar moved, and the closer we were together the easier we could hear each other.
In the end, we spent an hour and a half together which I don’t think would have happened if we all jumped on a Google Hangout, and in the end it actually does feel like we all went somewhere and did something together. Yes, the graphics are still a bit basic and blocky, and sure, the games weren’t a blast, but we did all share different experiences together and agreed that next time we’d try to find a tv show or movie to all watch together.
While these are still the early days of VR, the fact that I can hang out with my friends who live all over the country and actually feel like we did something together vs. just chatted is a bigger deal than I think most people think. If you don’t believe me, just try it out for yourself!