When I first tried VR, I was elated. I was in the Venice Beach Cadillac hotel with one of our co-founders, Aaron Nicholson, transported far and away by the Oculus DK2 headset. But was I the only one to go absolutely bonkers over this new technology?
“Virtual Reality? Yea I get it. They were doing that back in the 80’s and 90’s with those enormous headsets. Yeah, I get it; it’s like fake reality. Great.”
That was partially my impression before doing VR, and it is the impression of most people that have not tried virtual reality. This will diminish as public understanding of this technology grows.
There are those who have tried a roller coaster or the Space X experience on the Google Cardboard, or perhaps they’ve actually used the Samsung Gear VR. Some have used both but have only experienced Live 360, which, technically, is not true virtual reality--cool as it is.
Whether or not they have previously tried VR, after demonstrating Studio Transcendent’s experiences to hundreds upon hundreds of people over the past year, I would say that about 90% of people are blown away. There is certainly a variance in reactions within the headset, as people are different in nature. But after an experience, it is pretty much unanimous. They dig it. They very much dig it.
The other 10% are usually programmers that are desensitized to the technology, much like a theater director might find it very difficult to suspend their disbelief while watching a play. But for the audience, the results are amazing.
Time and time again I get reactions within the headset like “Oh My God!”, which is by far the most frequent phrase uttered. Other reactions: “This is going to change the world.” “This is amazing for education.” “That is INSANE!”
These sound like stereotypical exclamations, yet they are pure and authentic reactions from people blown away by the realization that the technology and artistry are rising to a high-level within the VR medium. One can be truly fooled that they are someplace else.
In one of our experiences, The Ledge, people’s minds are constantly pitted up against their fight or flight instincts, their pure subconscious need for survival. In these moments, especially to those virgin to the technology, it is incredibly difficult to just sit back and relax by thinking “I’m in a hotel right now” or “This is just a conference room, chill out.” This is the point at which many have to take off the headset - their only means of retrieving the feeling of safety in knowing that they are not in this virtual space.
It is also fun for others to watch. With a well-built and well-written experience, the entertainment can be had, not just by the user in the headset, but by those observing them from the monitor, tracking what they are going through and watching their reactions.
The best part about virtual reality is that even though those of the Baby Boomer generation generally have a lower propensity of enthusiasm and quick willingness to jump into an experience, they end up enjoying it as much as millenials and younger. Moderation in everything, they say, especially when it comes to curse words, for instance. The “F” word’s ever-growing popularity has definitely found its way into my world as people’s adulation towards our experiences have provided sound evidence that the word is alive and well, induced by satisfying VR experiences.
Don’t get me wrong, not every virtual reality piece is guaranteed to warrant reactions of amazement. I have been a fortunate witness of enthusiastic responses, brought to life by the work of our amazing team here at Studio Transcendent. And that is why we stick by our mission statement - to create top quality virtual reality experiences that allow people to understand themselves and the world better, with a glimmer of fun all the while.
In our piece, Rapid Fire: A Brief History of Flight, there is a consistent moment where the user is seen in a state of awe. This is when they can see above them all of the planes that were shot down in the Battle of Britain, promoting a visceral understanding of what was previously merely abstract facts and figures. The 360 sound design helps court this feeling of chills even further up and down the spine.
VR deserves deliberate execution and creative thinking into why an experience should exist. If there is not a specific reason why it should be in VR instead of on a 2D rectangular screen, then perhaps it should be made in another medium. There is a whole new realm of creative experiences coming to life with the existence of this new paradigm, which, I should note, is vastly different from augmented reality. Not only will VR blossom in the fields of education, entertainment, and the medical field, but it will also serve as an amazing marketing and sales tool for businesses around the world that are able to see that, if done properly, VR can create immense value.
VR can help people to understand themselves and the world better. And that’s why we’re here. :)