Sometimes you don’t need to be in virtual reality (VR) to have a VR moment. Because there’s something about seeing how a person reacts to VR that can both delight and entertain you. Like how you most of you have already seen the ‘Grandma Tries Virtual Reality’ video online. You know the one. I don’t even have to embed it or anything on the page it’s been shared round so much.
As I mentioned on a recent VR vs I have become ‘that guy’ who likes to introduce family and friends to VR in order for them to a) understand what it is that I do for a living and also b) give them an opportunity to try something new out. Whilst reactions certainly have not been to the Grandma level of ‘oh crap, it’s going to kill me’ it was fascinating to see the reactions of people you know. You know how they react to things normally so any differences are much more noticeable. Even so both my mother and a friend of mine both tried the Gear VR for the first time and had similar reactions, namely it took a few minutes for them to get used to it but taking a simple route in they both got hungry for more.
Both started with 360 degree photos, which seemed the best way to go. You couldn’t see the eyes but you could see in the body language both starting to get it. Both beginning to understand what this meant. Moving on to 360 degree video, a real life scenario with animals all around – rabbits in one instance and cows I think in another. The immersion level was increasing, both cooed about what they were seeing, their voices going higher (as people’s tend to do when confronted by something cute) both reached out as though they wanted to touch but then hesitated not seeing their hand. They both were at the point where they engaged with that going on around them.
Stage 3: More representative 360 degree experiences, this time the Jurassic World and Avengers: Age Of Ultron (aka Battle for Avengers Tower) experiences. Immersion increased yet again they were moving around, my friend even forgetting I was there as they became fully engrossed in what they were seeing. What was particularly interesting was whilst I couldn’t hear what they were hearing I knew exactly where both experiences from their movements. When the Apatosaurus leaned in they both leaned back to degrees. When the Hulk threw a punch both ducked under it.
At this point I let both carry on in their own time trying out a couple of small more interactive experiences, so continuing the process into ‘full’ VR until I felt as though they were both beginning to tire. I helped each off with their headsets and each wore a beaming smile. It was my mother though, who is traditionally somewhat shy of new technology who surprised me most with her response.
“That was great.” She said, “So… What else is there I can try?”