Fueling a Virtual Reality Community: Generation Z, Fandoms, and Technology
The term “the future is now” has been around forever, because of human beings’ constant desire for progress and development. Today, although major technological advances such as self-driving vehicles and cell phones with facial recognition capabilities already seem too good to be true, our innate nature propels us to strive for something even better. With that said, what exactly is the future in today’s perspective? We believe the future lies in a community-driven virtual reality (“VR”), driven by 3 major components: Generation Z, fandoms, and technology.
When you read a social media and tech article, there is a high percentage chance you’ll come across the word “Generation Z,” putting notion to describing a certain generation. So, how is Generation Z classified, what’s all this hype and why does it matter?
First, Generation Z describes people born in the years between 1992 and 2005. Statistically speaking, these individuals are the first in human history to be born into an era of digital technology. In a sense, they don’t know what a world without social networking really is… simply because they were born right into it; they can’t be blamed for that.
So, with them being born into the era of advanced social networking systems and technology, are they radically different from the rest of us? The answer? Yes, and no. Throughout father time, humans have greatly evolved throughout the years, but mainly highlighting the “social aspect to life”.
Let’s briefly take a look at how people changed over the course of human history. Did individuals from thousands of years ago think and behave differently compared to how people function today? Not really. Human psychology has evolved only mildly, in retrospect to each culture and society around the world. In other words, modern cognition was already in place when Homo Sapiens emerged, or 315,000 years ago (Smithsonian). Thus it is very safe to say that Gen Z individuals are still the same people.
So what makes them so different from the “non-Gen-Z”? The simple answer is, they’re much more technologically inclined, being exposed to smartphones and tablets since they were kids. Compared to past generations where people grew up playing with wooden and plastic toys, these individuals grew up watching videos on smartphones and playing baby games on tablets. This indicates that they understand the concept of data transfer, digital information, and technological realizations, intuitively, better than past generations. And this is what enables Gen Z to grasp our focus on the community driven VR World, because they are the most technologically advanced and forward-thinking generation in human history.
These individuals were not satisfied with Facebook so they’ve moved on to Twitter and later on Instagram. They always have a feeling of wanting more, something better and more sophisticated to express their individuality and connectivity to the rest of the world.
And as a result, the VR World is not just the “next” FB, Twitter, or Instagram but it’s an introduction to a platform that offers something special, something more than those today. Moreover, the economical and financial aspects of virtual reality look promising as well. Gen Z consumers are willing to pay for virtual goods and currency more than ever, given that they offer virtual value (TheMotleyFool).
“Gen Z is poised to pioneer the social uses for VR and AR (GenHQ)”
As the next step in social media, the VR community, in comparison to current social platforms, allows users to experience a much more tangible, realistic world: one far more sophisticated, but also simultaneously intuitive to the human mind. Users will also be able to connect with peers on a level of intimacy never dreamed of before. To make an amplified (but realistic) comparison, current social media versus VR social media, is like learning about the solar system at school versus space-jumping from Mars to Uranus and feeling the actual atmosphere in space. And this idea is becoming a reality, because this next-gen VR social world is right around the corner: Stan World.
Let’s move onto the next component. Second is the rapid growth in fandoms. We are living in a world full of niche fandoms, that aren’t so “niche” anymore. People are now able to connect with like-minded peers online about anything they love. K-pop is arguably the best example here; BTS fans gather from all over the world to attend concerts and celebrate with complete strangers, because they are united through their identity as BTS fans (literally known as the A.R.M.Y.).
“You’re more likely to meet people who share the same interests as you (HelloGiggles)”
The same goes for the popular TV series Game of Thrones (“GoT”). This series was the classic “A Song of Ice and Fire” books, and while they were popular, they never reached the popularity of the TV Series. Over 8 seasons, GoT garnered 470.76 millions of views (excluding pirating) and 4,500 babies in the U.S. were named after GoT characters. Evidently, whether through music or through TV-shows, fandoms are now not just the cults they used to be, they are now a culture with the power to dominate the mainstream.
“According to the United States Social Security Administration, more than 4,500 babies were named after Game of Thrones characters alone (Independent)”
Third is technology. VR headsets such as Oculus Rift have been around for some time now. Many individuals now have experience with VR, and many of them have wondered what the next step in VR technology will be. What is the most logical, accessible use of this technology? The key lies in combining technology with a social platform (most modern technology-based startups are built on this combination) (OmicsOnline).
VR is not only the present but also the future, because combined with social media and growth in technology, people can now fully experience the “Virtual World inside the Real World.” Imagine scrolling through a Facebook News Feed in 3D, where you visit friends’ homes and watch viral videos together, then go shopping at a virtual marketplace from which you get deliveries made to the front door of your real home. Wouldn’t that be something?
“Social media platforms will begin including augmented reality options for videos, images, and more to adapt to the technology (BitRebels)”
Understanding the future is the key to success and development. Why do we believe the VR social network/community will become a hit? This is intuitive by nature. The audience (Gen Z) are experts at utilizing technology (i.e., VR) to celebrate what they like doing (fandom), from anywhere in the world. We believe, that a VR-based community, is the future today.
Stan World is the next-gen platform that combines social media, fandoms, and technology into a seamless VR World: https://www.stan.world/