What kind of VR meet-up settings can users expect to see?

vr1Nan Wearing Oculus Rift at the Samsung B” (CC BY 2.0) by nan palmero

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, believes that virtual reality is the future of social media. One of the main functions of Facebook is messenger, an app that allows users to chat with and keep in touch with friends. In the not-so-distant future, the billionaire genius aims to enhance this experience, and expects users to be doing all their chatting in VR social settings.

Facebook bought Oculus Rift in March 2014, and are now developing ways to use the technology in conjunction with the social media platform. There is a team of engineers working on VR chat rooms headed by designers Daniel James and Michael Booth, both of whom have worked at major gaming companies in the past. It is a wise approach to bring in these designers, as game developers tend to be at the forefront of advancements in technology.

Microgaming is a prime example of this, as they have just won the award for Digital Innovation of the Year for their VR Roulette game. The game is a fully immersive roulette experience set in VR worlds. The prototype that was on display at the ICE expedition was set in space, although there will be other locations available when it goes public.

This idea suggests that in the near future online casinos could be in line for a huge makeover in VR. If single games are being developed in VR, why not create full virtual casinos? This evolution could perhaps see the online casino as not just a place to play games, but also as a place to socialise. Something online casinos never really managed to recreate was the social aspect, but this could be about to change.

Online bingo sites appreciate that a lot of bingo players also enjoy the social side to the game. All the bingo games on are coupled with the opportunity to chat with other players. Players will see a “community” tab in the top right, and they can click this to chat with like-minded individuals. With the decline of the traditional bingo hall, nowadays 80% of bingo players play online, with the average age ranging between 30 and 50. 32red aims to cater to as many people from the target demographic as possible, but certain sites also provide for niche groups. Love My Bingo is one site that differentiates its bingo rooms by age and gender, perhaps as a way for their customers to chat to similar people.

vr2Portrait of a Bingo hall.” (CC BY 2.0) by Elsie esq.

So, if the online casino is in line for a massive VR upgrade, it seems certain that online bingo is as well. Sites like Winner Bingo already have virtual sections that allow players to bet money on virtual sports and games. When playing on 32red now, players can chat with others in a separate chat window. But in virtual reality they may be able to sit next to each other in a virtual bingo hall. This would be an ideal VR social setting for the bingo demographic. It is estimated that over 100 million people outside the UK also enjoy bingo, and VR could eventually bring about an eclectic mix of bingo players from vastly different cultures.

Aside from online casinos and bingo halls, there is so much scope for virtual reality chat settings in which Facebook users could be socialising in the near future. Altspace is existing software that was developed in 2013. The setting for this is a living room with large windows overlooking a garden. This simple idea has attracted over £10.6 million in capital funding, and is a taster of things to come. The beauty of the whole thing is that people from all over the world can meet up in the same place. This could change the way people deal with long distance relationships and families who live overseas, and it opens up a wealth of opportunities.

Global businesses could host meetings in VR function rooms, and interviews for overseas jobs could also be conducted in online settings. The possibilities for VR are endless, and that is why it is so exciting. What would be your ideal VR chat room?

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