Convrge, the virtual reality social platform known for hosting one of the largest gatherings in social VR history—a shared viewing of the Oculus’ pre-E3 event—is now taking the online space in a new direction, one that is decidedly much more intimate in size. The team is calling it Convrge Cinemas.

Convrge has today released a new home cinema space, a shared viewing area that lets you search and watch YouTube and Twitch videos with up to 5 people at a time. The application is currently available for use with both DK2 and traditional monitors.

ConvrgeCinema1

The platform first grew out of a digital discothek opened late last year that featured cartoonish avatars and nerd-inspired techno music. It wasn’t long until VR enthusiasts started using the space for impromptu conversations and weekly ‘campfire meetings’ to discuss all things virtual.

Developer Shawn Whiting told us that Cinemas was “inspired by the strong social presence in Toybox and Oculus Social,” and that the idea initially came out of the want to develop a shared space where users could watch whatever they wanted while playing VR poker—a concept still in development. However once Oculus Social Alpha was released on Gear VR headsets earlier this month and receiving good feedback, the team decided that they could “release just the cinema component and put out a polished social YouTube experience for the DK2 community.”

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Download the ‘Convrge’ Launcher

While their VR poker function is slated to arrive in the next few weeks, the team tells us that Convrge Cinemas “is the start of a wide variety of experiences that we’re tying together into the Convrge world. We really like Oculus Social, but wanted to open up more options like searching all of YouTube and Twitch rather than curating it.”

watching Watchmen (2009) in Convrge Cinemas
Watching Watchmen (2009) in Convrge Cinemas

In the meantime, the Convrge team plans on pushing the envelop with more community uploaded avatars, virtual drugs (yes, virtual drugs), and making the space cross platform with its coming supporting for both Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive.

Whiting tells us more about the decision to offer users the smaller cinema space:

Most of the socializing in Convrge usually ends up taking place after one of our events. Everyone breaks up into smaller groups and we end up talking for hours. So it made sense to us to start building out smaller spaces that were better suited to that sort of thing. We decided to streamline the experience by having you log in right on the couch. We’re looking to add more teleport points in the future, but for now it’s an experience more based around kicking back than exploring the space.

Convrge Cinemas is now open 24/7 so anyone can check out the space, talk to fellow VR enthusiasts, or even become the host of your own room with the ability to search and watch whatever YouTube and Twitch content you want.

The VR social platform will be kicking off their opening night with ‘Bob Ross Night’ starting tonight, Monday Nov. 16th at 4pm PST (click for your local time). The viewing schedule for Twitch’s continued Bob Ross marathon will be posted on the Convrge website.

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Full disclosure: The author currently co-hosts a weekly live show in Convrge called ‘The Deep End’.

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