Why persistence in Virtual Reality world matters.

People ask us why Somnium Space and other single persistent worlds are important in VR.

Two main reasons and a case study are what we put in our “VR pitch deck”.

Number 1. Persistence Builds Immersion

Besides the Virtual Body Ownership illusion the Place Illusion is critically important for a VR world to be believed by the human brain.

Somnium Waypoint early stage concept art

What is this Place Illusion though? Originally from Dr. Mel Slaters’ work it means; when your brain is convinced by the digital landscape so that you forget about your physical surroundings then the Place Illusion is operating. Therefore, the more immersive the experience the deeper the place illusion becomes and the more people will want to stay/come back.

Number 2. Persistence Builds Community

We are all looking to be part of something. With social media bubbles and echo chambers its important to be part of something larger than just our friends group. To this end, we at Somnium believe that a robust community of diverse voices builds a better overall experience. Of course you may object to certain parts of town and not spend much time there but at the same time what a gift to be able to engage with folks in an online embodied setting without danger of being punched!

Somnium Space park view next to main square

Of course there needs to be rules and consequences but overall when there is a cost to bad behavior and it is greatly reduced by having a single persistent world inhabited by everyone at the same time. This type of world gives more opportunities for social norms to develop as well as social costs to be felt. For example, we all have heard of social costs (shunning, shyness, embarrassment) and experienced them ourselves in social VR. Also we have felt connection, joy, friendship, understanding, play, communication so we keep coming back!

But what about brass tacks, nuts and bolts and cold hard cash!

What do we mean by that? Well lets look at a quick case study and we’ll explain.

SingularityHub Article

At the beginning of the year, they had roughly 6,500 brokers, but today they have over 12,000 operating in more than 300 markets across the US and Canada. This pace of growth is unprecedented for a single national brokerage and almost unthinkable for a real estate company not structured as a collection of local franchises.

This past May, eXp Realty marked a critical turning point by moving its listing from a penny stock exchange to the Nasdaq — a major signal of market legitimacy. The move was an immediate success, as their market capitalization soon crossed one billion dollars.

Incredibly, this growth is largely the result of eXp Realty’s use of an online VR world similar to Second Life. That means every employee, contractor, and the thousands of agents who work at the company show up to work — team meetings, training seminars, on-boarding sessions — all inside a virtual reality campus.

Remember, its persistent! Everyone has an office, everyone can book meeting space, heck everyone can even hear each other unless they are in a silent/conversation zone. Folks can meet, train, network, hang out, even play together no matter where they are located physically. But they maintain social contact and save tons of money too!

This is where Somnium Space has an advantage. Start a business and it is seen by everyone instead of whoever stumbles on your world out of the thousands of other worlds with no one there. If you want privacy build further from town, if you want exposure build higher and even if you don’t want to run a cloud company in VR you can still make money via Admix by placing relevant non-intrusive, product placements on your land and make money just the way the movies do!

All in all when it comes to the future of VR, we for one believe persistence is key and when we are talking about a $39,000,000,000.00 market by 2020 the pioneers (you and us) are going to be well placed for success.

Check out the crowd funding opportunity at SeedingVR and join us in persistent social VR each Wednesday for a tour, bowling, rock climbing or just to say hi.

Somnium Space weekly community events