So often we find ourselves talking about “virtual reality” – to friends, family, clients, and co-workers. We’ve all shared our personal experiences from activations at SXSW or other branded experiences, but when met with the question “What is Virtual Reality exactly?” it can be hard to answer confidently.
So why is virtual reality such a buzzworthy topic? We went to VR WORLD, a Virtual Reality Center located on 34th in Midtown Manhattan to find out:
Cassie Lavo, the Director of Content from Kworq interviews Jessica Gray the Marketing Director from VR World and explores the experiences at VR WORLD.
WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY?
After chatting with Jessica Gray, the Marketing Director at VR World, it became clear to us that VR is a complicated topic and explaining it simply was harder than we thought. Jessica explains Virtual Reality as:
“Using technology to create non-realistic, surrealist, and even realistic environments that create a context or environment that is new and different from what one would have access to on the day to day.”
Basically, VR uses technology that enables us to create a new environment or context that wouldn’t be possible without it. That is a definition that I can grasp onto, but throughout our interview with Jessica, she continued to reiterate that VR is so much more complicated, and because of all the things that fall beneath the umbrella of VR, it can not be explained too simply. She goes further to explain, that the best way to fully understand what Virtual Reality is, is to try it for yourself.
WHY ARE BRANDS TAPPING INTO VR?
Virtual Reality allows the user to have more control over their environment and “places the user in a more protagonist role,” according to Jessica. Tapping into VR allows for powerful storytelling because the user is immersed within the experience. They are no longer watching something unfold, they are integral to the story unfolding and moving forward. This interaction with the story creates a powerful connection between the user and environment.
Brands are always looking for new ways to reach and interact with their audience. Virtual Reality lets brands create an entire immersive experience with their fans. VR is a powerful way to engage users whether your goal is brand recognition, launching a new product, or just finding new ways to connect with your fan base.
My experience with the Fruit Ninja virtual game, demonstrated how powerful the connection is between the user and the virtual environment. I have played the game on my phone hundreds of times – chopping fruit into little pieces using just my fingertips. But once I tried the Virtual version of the game I don’t think I will ever be able to look at the experience the same.
I was holding two large swords and fruit was aggressively flying into the air. My feet were firmly planted on the ground as I swayed my arms back and forth chopping fruit into other tiny pieces of fruit. I was the ninja. It was awesome. The simple game I played on my phone came to life and I was the main attraction. I took off the HMD (head mounted device) and felt like I had just come back from an entirely different world. I can play the phone version of the game anywhere, whether it be on my way to work, during a boring conversation, or just laying in bed. When playing the virtual game my entire body, brain, and energy we’re working towards the same goal. I was no longer playing the game, I was in the game.
Creating a game or story in a virtual environment requires a level of participation and response different than other activations. You can control what your fan sees and give them the power to make choices all at the same time.
SHOULD I TRY VIRTUAL REALITY?
Yes. You should. Jessica explains that while VR can be a tricky topic to explain to others, she harps that if you want to fully understand it – you should try it and I completely agree. The more you experience in virtual reality, the better you can understand it’s limitations and uses.
FINAL VR TAKEAWAYS:
- Virtual Reality is confusing and the best way to better understand it is to try different experiences for yourself.
- VR allows brands to create immersive experiences that give their users more control and interaction.
- If you play Fruit Ninja on your phone, you should go try the virtual experience ASAP.
Subscribe to Kworq on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Kworq?sub_confirmation=1
More on VR WORLD: https://vrworldnyc.com/
Also published on Medium.