bruce-reggieAltSpaceVR is the first cross-platform social VR application that supports both the Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. Now that all of these VR headsets have had their consumer launch, then AltSpace VR has been one of the top places in VR to have social interactions.

I had chance to catch up with Bruce Wooden (aka “Cymatic Bruce”) at SVVR 2016 to talk about what types of events they’ve been holding, what types of emergent social behaviors he’s seeing, and how they’ve been teaching VR etiquette within their welcome spaces for new users. We also talk about some of the social dynamics that occur when they mix together the full range of interaction fidelity between hand-tracked Vive, Leap Motion hands in the Rift, and just the head rotation of the Gear VR. There is a bit of a power dynamic that emerges where people with tracked hands can be more expressive and have more attention and power in a conversation, and so we talk a bit about the implications of that including whether or not it makes Gear VR users feel more like consumers than creatives, producers, or equal participants.

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AltSpaceVR has focused on building out different games and things to do in VR that allow users to participate in an activity while socializing with other people, and they are also starting to hold bigger events. One of the more successful AltSpace events was bringing comedians from the JASH festival to do Improv Comedy inside Virtual Reality featuring Josh Brekhus, Beth Lepley, Danny Cohen and Ali Ghandour:

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Comedy in VR tends to work particularly well because you get a lot more social presence when you hear other people laugh, and so they’re using that success to hold what could end up being the largest VR event up to this point with Reggie Watts live in AltSpace VR on May 26, 2016 at 8pm PST.

Bruce said that one of his personal highlights was having meeting Reggie when he did a comedy and music set in VR, and I had a chance to interview Reggie about his VR film at Sundance where I discovered that he’s a huge VR geek.

The release of consumer VR has made social VR spaces like AltSpaceVR a lot less lonely, and they are likely to have some of the bigger VR events given their cross platform capabilities. It will be interesting to see if catering to the Gear VR users as their main target demographic will limit features that might be Vive or Rift specific. Right now, being inclusive of all of the VR headsets is proving to foster a lot of diversity of participation of users that go beyond the VR enthusiast community and into mainstream Gear VR users, who may have received a free headset with a their S7 pre-order.

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Music: Fatality & Summer Trip

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  • Wednaud Ronelus

    This platform is the wave of the future. I see how to use this immersive technology to design an educational learning environment. I am looking forward to follow this innovative idea and contribute to this laudable undertaken.

  • RavnosCC

    Not knowing anything about AltSpaceVR, how is it regulated, can anyone sign up, are there fees to entry, (other than hardware) etc? Can you participate w/o a VR setup (flat screen) ?

  • Zobeid

    The biggest deterrent in AltSpaceVR seems to be the TOS requirement that everyone use their real names — unlike what many of us are long accustomed to in other environments such as Second Life.

  • Pete

    Awesome Podcast. Really interesting to see the dynamics of the social aspect of VR. Cynamatic Bruce is tha man!