“What are the best apps/games for demonstrating VR to my friends and family?” It’s a question as old as time, right? Most people expect a straightforward answer; they want a specific list of three to five apps and it needs to suit every person they’ve ever met. Regardless of whether you’ll be demonstrating the Gear VR, Playstation VR, Vive, or Rift, this question isn’t likely to go away any time soon.
“You cannot simply throw your grandmother into Fallout 4…”
The truth is that there isn’t really a “one size fits all” response, and that’s okay. Perhaps we need to focus less on just “what” to demonstrate in VR, and place more emphasis on “how”. If you want to make the best impression possible, tailor the content to the specific user that will be experiencing the VR demonstration. Think about yourself trying a new video game. If you’re an experienced gamer, you’ll likely bore very quickly from Pong. Equally, you cannot simply throw your grandmother into Fallout 4 (unless you have the coolest of grandmothers).
“Have you ever offered a parent tech support over the phone without seeing their computer?”
For the sake of this article, let’s call these new VR rookie users “VRookies” (much like Mean Girls’ “fetch”, this probably won’t “happen”). Here are some factors to consider:
How much time do I have per VRookie?
- You may have one VRookie with you and an entire evening to let them sample a wide variety of content.
- On the other hand, you may have only an hour to show five VRookies what VR is all about. If you have enough time, you can try a range of experiences rather than selecting just one.
How tech savvy is this VRookie?
- This may determine if you trust them to navigate the menus and controls on their own. Remember, you can’t see what they see when they wear the head-mounted display (HMD). Have you ever offered a parent tech support over the phone without seeing their computer? I rest my case.
- This will also determine how complicated you want to make the experiences. Will your VRookie be bored by simply looking at 3D images? Will your VRookie be overwhelmed by touchpad controls in a simple game?
Remember, the odds are that even if your friend/family is tech savvy, they probably haven’t spent countless hours reading about VR like you. Give them a quick rundown of what to expect and how to use the controls.
“You’ll be cursing them later when you realize that you can’t get the straps or focus back to your old sweet spot!”
Make sure they know the limits of the hardware:
- Make sure they understand if your device offers head tracking, positional tracking, or both, and what that means.
- Quickly explain the screen door effect (SDE). Let them know that they may see pixels, you want to keep their expectations realistic.
- Warn them about possible eye strain and motion sickness, and let them know that they can remove the HMD if they feel uncomfortable.
Explain the controls:
- Teach the basic controls, whether that means an explanation of tapping and swiping the Gear VR touchpad, or explaining handheld gamepads or controllers on other systems.
- Consider making these steps easier by simply having them do the tutorial before anything else, if the system offers one and you have the time.
Set up up the HMD for head and eye comfort:
- Start by adjusting the straps.
- Have them move the headset up and down on their face in order to centre the lenses on their eyes vertically. Too high and it will be blurry. Too low? Blurry again.
- Adjust the focus of the HMD to finely tune the setup.
If you’re like me, you’ll be cursing them later when you realize that you can’t get the straps or focus back to your old sweet spot! Still, totally worth it.
Finally, pick appropriate content based on your VRookie. After reading everything I’ve written, you didn’t expect me to give in and provide you a list of three to five generic app/game selections, did you? Of course not.
“Missing some of those important steps could result in a poor impression.”
Remember, you are likely giving people their first experience with virtual reality. This can be a big responsibility when you consider it in that light, and missing some of those important steps could results in a poor impression. The quality of your demonstration will have a powerful impact in shaping their entire opinion of VR going forward. No pressure, just don’t blow it!