The AltspaceVR app is set to recreate the heady feeling of connectivity pioneered by chat services and email in the 90’s – but now in VR.
I used to hang out in the MMORPG Ragnarok Online’s (RO) main city Prontera, just being “there” with my mage avatar and chatting and socializing like it was the most normal thing in the world. In fact, it was revolutionary (for its time). There I was, typing and staring at a screen in the real world, but in the virtual one, I was rambling around in a fantastical cityscape filled with thousands of avatars, each representing an actual person.
Putting aside the RO experience (which I can talk about ad nauseam as it was a formative part of my childhood), the experience of the virtual started there for me – a heady feeling of socializing without the stress of actually mingling with analog people. Altspace VR is set to do the same for a new generation of virtual reality enthusiasts.
AltspaceVR’s Google Play page boasts of some familiar activities such as hanging out with your friends (and “seeing” them as you converse), seeing who else is online, live events, and activities you can do with your friends while in virtual space. Essentially it’s a way to “do VR together”, with all of the associated potential that entails, especially with continuous development.
The best part? It won’t be exclusive to VR – anyone with an android device or PC can get in and see other avatars of the participants and participate in the activities. In fact, with the inclusion of Google’s Daydream platform, AltspaceVR is turning into a powerhouse with the potential to become *the* default meetup place for people in virtual – any kind of virtual – space. As of its release last February 23, in addition to simply accessing it without a headset, AltspaceVR can also be accessed through the four major headsets currently available – Google’s Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, HTC’s Vive, and the Oculus Rift.
AltspaceVR is perhaps a prophetic name – if my experience in RO is any indicator, it’s going to be revolutionary once more people become aware of how enjoyable hanging out can be – even when you can’t meet up in the physical world.