“Social” VR

Online Social VR and Co-Located Social VR

From my perspective, co-located VR experiences are incredibly important for this medium to succeed. Multiple people engaging in the same virtual reality at the same time in the same physical location. Those multiple people in the same place at the same time are usually the people who matter most in your life — your close family and friends.

However, every time someone hears “social VR” they immediately think and talk about the online version of social.

My intent is not to start an online social vs co-located social debate. My intent is to show that both are important to consider seriously for XR experiences. It is an “and” discussion, not an “or” discussion.

Below are some videos that I think help show the important of both.

Co-Located Social XR Experiences

HTC Vive’s green screen promo video does a great job showing (not telling) how family and friends engage in the virtual content together, even when it’s with just one participant in the world at a time. Those back seat helpers are actually a very important part of the VR experience. Encouraging us and guiding us as we explore new worlds. And of course laughing and bonding over the VR experiences too.

These brothers are building off each other’s energy to fully immerse themselves in these multiplayer VR and AR games. They are having so much fun! It’s like doing improv or playing Dungeons and Dragons — you accept the new reality and help each other immerse into it and elevate the level of fun had by all (including the people watching on the sidelines).

Online Social VR

Listen to this clip of James Andrew describing his profound moment in VR regarding the presence of others visiting his virtual room.

Assuming the technology catches up to our needs and expectations (eg: resolution), I can see people spending more time in VR as the way we work and connect with people remotely.

This is going to sound meta, but imagine that long-distance couple playing Minecraft together-together. Their Minecraft avatars are both in the Minecraft world together, but they’re also in the virtual Minecraft living room lounging together. Their Minecraft avatars can be far apart from each other, while their virtual selves stay seated right next to each other in the virtual living room.

Social + Social = Better Plus Good

Both online social and co-located social are very important for XR. Why? We are human beings after all.