VR Outreach: Turkish Women’s Network
As the university landscape becomes littered with VR laboratories and incubators, developers and members residing in these virtual clubhouses can become quickly inured to the technology and forget that for a large sector of the consumer public the experience is either unknown or confined to a 360-video of a roller coaster they saw at a shopping malls. To thrive, the VR industry has to maintain a patient and welcoming spirit along with an ethic of openness, which means granting access to their VR facilities or visiting interested groups with a preferred HMD in hand.
That’s not to say we must entertain individual self-interest by having an Open House. Instead, our limited technological resources will be more effectively and widely spread through outreach to professional networks and communities who bear the potential to be inspired by virtual realities and apply them to toward the advancement of their organizational goals. We see this phenomenon played out extensively as already VR is used to combat pain, fear and intolerance while facilitating empathy, education, and training, but we need to meet with these groups to learn how VR and professional communities could together bring the highest mutual benefit.
A few days past, I attended one such event as Turkish WIN (a professional network of Turkish Women) visited VR First at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul to hear an overview of Virtual Reality by Sami Hamid of Glitch Studios. The lecture itself covered topics ranging from VR Happy Meals to presence to why Polar Express was unintentionally a film about about zombies on a train.
It was a lecture I’d sat through before, but I came to ask the attendees about their organization, their experience with VR, to guide them through this experience, and get their impressions. And I learned that almost nobody had used VR before outside an art exhibition or a shopping center; indeed, for four women that I spoke to it was their first time. I witnessed their reaction to the VR experience as some participants were hesitant or giddy, and one person in particular was so immersed that she ran recklessly into every desk and wall within range.
In the end, it felt most important that visitors left with a better impression of VR than they came with. Personally, I look forward to a day when the professionally and personally diverse people I meet at these events fill the environs of social VR.