Depending on who you were rooting for in the US election, last night was either a shocking and sobering wake-up call to a reality that you don’t feel a part of or it was a jubilant celebration of a victory that was doubted and underestimated by the mainstream political and media establishments. Either way, what’s clear is that there’s a cultural divide in America that’s split nearly evenly between the percentage of people who voted in the election. Trying to understand the other side of the cultural gap can feel like entering into an entirely different parallel universe, and I feel like virtual reality has an important role to play in bringing more empathy and understanding to each side.

ian-foresterI had a chance to catch up with VR Playhouse co-founder Ian Forester at Oculus Connect 3, where he shared with me some of his vision for how VR could change the way that the learn and understand the world. He sees that there are three primary ways that we learn about the world including our direct sensory experiences, our direct observations of other people, and then a lot of indirect cultural indoctrination that comes from the mainstream media, education, and the culmination of all of our social interactions.

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Ian sees that VR has the potential to provide us with a wider range of direct sensory experiences with a diverse range of people and cultures within social VR experiences, and that this has the potential to give us more access to learning from our interactive direct experiences rather than from information that we’re consuming from different sources of external authority.

It feels like the United States is at real crossroads right now with the political culture gap that exists right now, and this interview with Ian starts to discuss how VR could help us move beyond our existing methods of cultural indoctrination. Rather than passive consumption, VR allows us to have interactive experiences that could help engage and connect us to each other in new ways that transcend the capabilities of any other technologically-mediated interfaces.

Tilt Brush art by 3Donimus


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  • wowgivemeabreak

    The only gap is between dumb SJW millennial liberals who are delusional when it comes to reality and the rest of society. If the SJW millennial liberals would just grow up and realize they aren’t special snowflakes and the world isn’t the version they imagine it should be in their head then everything would be fine.

    • Tony Murchison

      Really? Delusional liberals are the one single cause of all political conflict?

      • David Herrington

        Don’t feed the troll….

        • Nein

          People who disagree with you aren’t trolls David. Don’t do that.

        • Mike

          A troll is someone who says things they don’t necessarily believe just to stir up trouble and watch the reaction. Such as the trolls in the current season of South Park. Someone having an opinion you don’t like doesn’t make them a troll.

      • Nein

        I wouldn’t say they are the cause of political conflict. But they are certainly not helping. Even in VR they try so hard to try to force their rhetoric under the guise that their logic is absolute. For example, a couple weeks ago a woman claimed to have been sexually assaulted in a multiplayer VR game. Nevermind the legal definition of sexual assault is physical, the fact that those “victims” have the audacity to equate real physical human suffering with a bunch of pixels in a simulation, is just disgusting.

        And worst of all is that anybody who opposed that person was conflated with misogyny and “people who just don’t understand emotions”.

        • Mr. New Vegas

          I remember that, I was laughing, she could just turn off the game and thats it.

          Time to deal with the SJWs and Safe Spacers.

        • Mike

          What’s sad in this context about the SJW mindset is that there was actually a legitimate issue that could have been talked about (and was to an extent): how to deal with immature people who intentionally ruin other people’s VR experiences for a laugh. But saying “this is literally sexual assault” or “this is men as a group trying to intimidate all women off the internet” helps nothing and just creates more needless political conflict and division.

  • Get Schwifty!

    I think this is a very powerful use of VR and has a lot of potential in the long run for putting one in the shoes of another. It was moving to run through a video that had your eye view on a small canoe maneuvering between grass huts people lived out on the water, the nearest experience I will ever have to the way these people live. the sense of presence, even in just a surround video can definitely help one to appreciate how other folks live and appreciate the world experience unique to them.