When self and purpose collide.

Existence and integrity in a new paradigm.

What happens when the user is replaced with the explorer.

In a virtual world, where the ‘user’ no longer exists — it is because you, the user, aren’t you anymore.

You are someone, something, multiple things, perhaps nothing — existent in a world to navigate and create your own stories through the context of the designed experience you find yourself in.

In web paradigms, the ‘user’ described a human interaction in the most functional way possible. A user; someone who uses your products. What about people who think, feel and respond emotionally to the worlds you create?

All experiences have the capacity to change us, and what you will appreciate in this medium is what it can evoke in you, because it will evoke things in you that will shake up the fabric of your reality.

We are no longer users, we are colliding our real and virtual selves to create new meaning in a new paradigm.

The role of identity in VR.

Who will you be and how will you impact your new reality?
What kind of role do you want to play in new realities?

We need to think about not just who we are designing for but what purpose we are creating for them and why that’s important.

Over time as the industry grows up and technology improves, we’ll see a vast change in the role people will play. It will evolve over time to become more meaningful and have far more impact on the real world than we can imagine.

As the more time we have to build immersive and realistic experiences that enable full interaction and agency with our world, the more we enable the ‘explorer’s of our worlds’ to discover purpose and awareness.

A starting point for creating new experiences is identifying what role, agency and impact we want for the explorers of our worlds right now.

If we break down the core of a virtual reality experience — we can start to understand where we want to build our worlds on the spectrum of engagement.

The observer

At the core of any VR experience lies the observer. The observer functions as as a participator in a virtual environment, as the story is told more or less around you.

The observer is someone who participates in the world but has no agency to interact on a deeper level with the environment. It is a gateway to the possibilities of a fully immersive and interactive world and functions more as a ‘trailer’ to the feature film. It’s purpose is to incite curiosity and a taste for what’s to come on a high end headset like the HTC vive or Oculus Rift.

Example: David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef Dive on Samsung Gear

The explorer

Once we start to have more ability to interact with our environment, we can start to make our own discovers and begin to tell our own stories. Perhaps you want to choose this path over an other, play with this particular object and spend more time in this space. We become explorers because we have free reign to play with our environment, navigate and explore on our own terms. It is at explorer level where the potential for meaning in a virtual environment truly grows because it is where you start to build presence in a virtual world.

Example: Going underwater in the Blu on HTC Vive

The creator

With the tools to start creating your own art, designs, solar systems, structures, animations, we can start to create anything we can literally think of. We can imagine something and bring it to life in a virtual world. We can master our own skills of sculpture for example in a virtual realm that we can bring back to the real world. We can translate not only our skills but our virtual creations into the real world through photos, videos and 3D printing. The creator is the point where you start to question your beliefs about what is possible at a personal level.

Example: Creating 3D art in Tilt Brush in HTC Vive

The collaborator

When we bring social context to creative environments, we can start to collaborate in teams that bring new meaning to collaborative work in professional or personal environments. We can ideate, create, build, present, educate in all the same ways we might do in the real world, but have agency to create our own environments, tools, logic or possibilities of interaction, which starts to yield on a higher purpose. The collaborator is the point where you start to realise anything is possible at a collective level.

We should look to social virtual worlds to allow us to explore these possibilities such as Altspace VR, experienced on the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Samsung Gear.

The change maker

When self and purpose collide, we become change makers. We have the ability to affect the real world with our virtual imaginations and creations. Once we get together in social virtual worlds and share ideas and strategies to change the world, and create our own tools and methods to do so in these worlds, we can look to virtual reality as an enabler to take us beyond what is possible in the real world to affect change in the real world.

Being a change maker will bring purpose and possibilities that will ultimately bring new meaning to ourselves and our beliefs and take us to the height of meaningful experience.

We are working on this level of experience by asking ourselves:

How do we create experiences that push us and take us beyond the boundaries of expectation and our reality as we know it?

Ursula Lane-Mullins

Director & Co-founder ACME Virtual