As we become more and more isolated, communicating has never been easier. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Discord, Zoom, are all helping us to keep connected with people around the world. But there is a new form that is starting to break out, VR social media.
What is VR?
Virtual Reality is a booming type of tech that involves putting on a headset of some sort and immersing yourself in a virtual world. There are lots of different types of VR. One of the more accessible options is the cheap headsets that allow you to slide your phone in to act as a screen. There aren’t many options for this type but it’s a good entry-level type of VR. The more popular form of VR is the gaming headsets like the Oculus Rift. The Oculus Rift is actually what gives the idea of VR as a piece of technology for social media as Oculus was recently bought by Facebook. Unfortunately, these have a considerably large barrier to entry with you needing the expensive headset and a powerful PC to be able to support it. But if you do manage to get one, there are lots of uses for it. You can watch movies, play video games, go to virtual museums or exhibits, and of course, use it as a form of social media.
VR as Social Media
With a piece of technology like this that allows you to immerse yourself in a virtual world we are starting to see a similar world to that of the OASIS from ready player one and that is no more obvious as it is with VR Chat. VR Chat is a free piece of software you can install for your pc that acts as a social media network. You boot up the game and pick an avatar and are then placed into a virtual world with others with the game. You can talk to each other, interact, and even play a huge variety of games all with the headset on. As good as clients such as Zoom and Discord are at interacting with each other, VR provides a much more immersive experience. It’s the closest you can get to hanging out in person with your friends in a safe and remote way.
Another big future development is Facebooks next endeavor Facebook Horizon. The idea behind Facebook’s horizon is that it’s going to be a VR sandbox social media space. IT allows building worlds and games within it that you and your friends with Oculus headsets can explore together through VR.
There are also other types of more specific VR spaces such as Sports Bar VR which is, exactly as it says on the tin, a sports bar that you and your friends can visit together and play games like darts pool, and air hockey. It’s a good place to sit and talk and ask each other questions. Here’s another option for free questions about your friends in the form of That’s You. Putting it into VR has allowed for a full party atmosphere virtually.
The main issue with this being a new front for social media is accessibility. Although companies are working to provide portable headsets that don’t require loads of setup and technological know-how, VR is still a noticeably large investment for your average consumer. If VR is going to take off as a social media platform companies need to find a way to make it so the general public is able to get involved with it. It’s the same as when Mobile phones were becoming a big thing. Companies need to show the public that VR is unique enough to provide an experience that other forms of technology cannot. It also doesn’t help that because social media is so integrated into how we as a society communicate, find work and make friends that for VR to become the dominant form of social media consumption, society would need to buy into that concept and move how they operate over to a VR space as well.
In conclusion, although it will take time, I think that when more commercially available VR headsets become available, VR will have a massive chance at becoming the future for how we communicate as a society.