Convrge, a social virtual reality environment for the Oculus Rift DK2, is once again opening its doors for some virtual ‘dancing’ (as much dancing as you can do with headtracking alone). The developers are hoping to draw some 100 people into their virtual forest setting which has both a dance floor that’s reactive to music and a peaceful campfire around which to chat.
In Convrge, you’ll take the form of a bodyless head, with several popular avatars to choose from (Pikachu, Mario, Finn, etc.). They might be blocky, and completely unrealistic, but when they’re hooked up to the Oculus Rift DK2’s positional headtracking, they are somehow imbued with a soul—it really feels like there’s someone in those polygons. That’s the power of social VR, feeling near other people who are actually far away. As the developers say, “It’s scary how present (especially in the Oculus Rift) you can feel with someone on the other side of the planet.”
The amount of body language information that can be conveyed just with the head is truly amazing. Discussions flow more naturally, as you can look from one person to another, handing off the conversation in a way that’s natural. And if everyone turns their head in the same direction, others are cued in that there’s something important happening in that direction. You can see people nod in agreement as you speak, and even see them laughing. And you can dance—or at least head bang—to the beat.
Inside Convrge, the developers have created a virtual dance floor in the woods that reacts to music with lights (and now a cool waveform visualizer made of the iconic pipes from Super Mario). The demo is fairly well optimized so even if you’re on a mid-range machine, you should be able to jump in for some fun while maintaining comfortable levels of performance.
The latest dance party event will be held on February 7th from 5pm EST to 11pm (other timezones here). You can download the latest version of Convrge for Windows or Mac at the official website:
At Convrge’s last dance party event, after they squashed some last minute bugs, I went for the music but ended up staying for the discussion. After ample head bobbing on the dance floor, a group of us gathered around the fire for some good old fashioned talking. It was great to get to hear, see (in a way), and get to know a small slice of the online VR community that’s spread out around the globe.
P.S. for those of you there last time that were part of the bouldering crew, Convrge co-founder Shawn Whiting tells me that there are some “sick new wall crawls that are going to blow your mind.” Can’t wait.