Will Virtual Reality Bring Us Together?

Will Virtual Reality Bring Us Together? 1
"Oculus Rift Crystal Cove prototype" (CC BY 2.0) by pestoverde

Oculus Rift Crystal Cove prototype” (CC BY 2.0) by pestoverde

The rise of technology is often linked to the decline of “real” interaction and the death of society according to those who want a return to the “good old days”. While most people would now agree that modern technology hasn’t made us less social, the ways in which we’re social have apparently changed over the last few decades.

Writing a letter has been replaced by email and a phone conversation is now an endless stream of text and emojis via WhatsApp or Facebook. However, while we might not enjoy as much face-to-face interaction as we once did, it’s possible to argue that we’re now more social than we’ve ever been.

We’re More Social Online

Bingo Night at West
Bingo Night at West” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Manchester Library

When you look beyond simple forms of communication, you’ll see that interaction is now an integral part of almost everything we do online. For example, one of the most social things we do in life, gaming, can now be done online. What’s more, thanks to modern technology, we can communication with our friends and play alongside them in the virtual realm.

Take, for instance, bgo Bingo. Made popular in the mainstream thanks to its array of games and links to celebrities like Paris Hilton, this website has essentially taken one of the most social games in the world and made it an online experience. Indeed, back in the sixties and seventies, when bingo was at its peak, it was often seen as a community event where people went to socialise and have some fun.

Today, when players log into bgo Bingo, this atmosphere is still present thanks to in-game chat facilities, forums and dedicated chat rooms where players can swap stories and catch up on the latest news. Basically, all the things that made bingo a “social” experience live can now be enjoyed online.

In fact, beyond the online bingo world, Smart Live Casino offers “live dealer” tables that connect players with real people via webcams to create a highly social experience. Similarly, inside a site like BetVictor you’ll find progressive jackpot slots such as The Dark Knight and Hall of Gods. These games are built on the idea of communal effort as the more players that play, the larger the progressive jackpot becomes.

VR to Shift the Social Dynamic in a Positive Way

Essentially, what we can see is that The Internet is a highly social place; it just might not be “social” in the traditional sense of the term. However, things could be about to change thanks to virtual reality (VR) again. If we accept that we’re now more social but that face-to-face interaction has dropped, then VR could fill this void.

As you’d expect, online casino companies like Microgaming are already jumping on the bandwagon with VR Roulette innovations, but the most impressive example of social VR in recent months is Toy Box.

Demoed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the software uses Oculus Rift and touch control technology to connect players in a virtual gaming world. The idea behind Toy Box is that players in two different locations can enter the same virtual room and play a game such as table tennis as if they were staring across the table at each other.

This breakthrough is hugely significant from a “social” point of view as VR has previously focused on the individual. Because the technology is still in its infancy, most developers have been focused on perfecting the interactions between the player and the virtual world around them.

However, as Toy Box has shown, there’s more to VR than individual experiences, and this could hold the key to our future interactions. In fact, as Zuckerberg himself has said, VR is going to be the “most social platform” in the coming years.

Face-to-Face in a New Setting

Simpsons VR
Exploring Virtual Reality” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by fabola

While we won’t necessarily be able to enjoy actual face-to-face communication through our VR headsets, the experience will certainly be a lot closer to the real thing than is currently possible.

The way we communicate has certainly changed, but it seems as though it could be set to change again as we find new arenas to interact in. However, what’s interesting about this next potential shift is that it’s merging the old ideas of interaction with a more modern concept.

Instead of face-to-face communication taking place in a physical room, we could soon be linking hands with someone in a virtual realm, and that’s an exciting possibility we should all be looking forward to.