Darshan Shankar started BigScreen VR with a deceptively simple premise of wanting to have Virtual LAN parties with other gamers in VR, but using your computer screen as a center point of conversation has catalyzed a wide range of different use cases. In the first 3-4 weeks since their launch, the initial intended audience of gamers are indeed holding virtual LAN parties with 2D and 3D games, but there are also some surprising emergent behaviors. These range from business meetings, co-working rooms, ad-hoc training and technical support, application user testing, cultivation of business partnerships, cultivation of niche communities, and enabling the expression of identity through your collection of digital artifacts. The computer screen is a “social lubricant” that kicks starts a conversation, and allows people to connect with other people through playing, sharing, and exploring.
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There are also enough constraints in locomotion and a limit of four people per room that encourages intimate conversations, but there are also some surprising behaviors. People are hanging out in BigScreen playing their own games and in some cases don’t directly connect with anyone else, just as one might go to coffee shops to be able to focus on work. Sometimes playing a 2D game on BigScreen will have a lower resolution, but the ambient presence of other gamers with similar interests and values is enough to have users come back again and again.
I had a chance to do a demo with BigScreen co-founder Hayden Lee, and then catch up with him after talking to some random users within BigScreen. We talked about the wide range of social behaviors, being able to rapidly iterate on a product where the developers can literally watch their users every move via their shared screens, and some of their future plans moving forward. There’s a clear list of features from their users, and because of the wide range of use cases and applications, then I expect to see BigScreen VR become a big player in the future of social VR.
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