On the flat web, we work with “UX Design” (User eXperience Design) and “Interaction Design”, because the way people interact with flat websites is quite removed from how they interact with other media or anything else in the real world. The possibilities are restricted to the possibilities of the media itself.
When we look at how people interact with content in Virtual Worlds, or Virtual Reality, there are less boundaries between these contexts and Actual Reality. When we look at designing the user experience, we’re no longer looking at whether people are likely to click a massive graphic at the top of a page – we’re looking at are they going to want to go through that door to see what’s on the other side. Wanting to click a massive graphic, or not, is uniquely flat web. Being curious and going through a door? That’s for real.
As such, our analysis of user behaviour in virtual worlds requires a much larger subset of real-world psychology to properly understand.
I’m not huge fan of sporting events. And I’m even less of a fan of the Olympics. But this year, the Olympics represents an important step forward in the mainstreaming of virtual reality.
As a Canadian, my national broadcaster is the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Right now, the CBC is proudly broadcasting select Olympic events in VR. And not just any VR – mobile VR. The flagship platform is Gear VR – but the broadcasts also work with Google Cardboard. And on mobile devices, and desktops.
A lot has been made of the role of VR in the art of storytelling. Even more has been made of the role of storytelling in the fledgling art of VR. At first, I was fascinated by the idea. But the more I thought about it – the more I read about it – the more I started to wonder how many “interactive” concepts could be added to an idea that is 7/12 “telling”, without the very idea of “storytelling” bursting at the seams. The dead-end implications of “telling” anything to users with the capacity for full interaction weighed on me. So I came up with the term storysharing.
I write a lot about UI (user interfaces) and UX (user experience) in 3D environments and VR in this blog. Today, I saw a wonderful video on the subject. So I’m gonna kick back, embed the video, and let Mike Alger do all the talking.
All the rage in the news this week has been the introduction of some high-end “360-degree” cameras for virtual reality. Are these 3D cameras?
The elephant in the room is that these “360-degree” cameras do not produce stereoscopic output. Stereoscopy is the bedrock of creating the illusion of three dimensions.
What is “stereoscopy”? From Wikipedia: “Stereoscopy is the production of the illusion of depth in a photograph, movie, or other two-dimensional image by the presentation of a slightly different image to each eye, which adds the first of these cues (stereopsis). The two images are then combined in the brain to give the perception of depth.”
idoru.js is an experiment I’m working on with artificial characters in virtual worlds. The idea is that to provide good “user experience” (UX) in a virtual world, a character must have good “stage presence” to stimulate engagement.
The idea is to create a framework for an artificial character that is charming and attentive to the user. This character can then be “dressed up” with any imaginable avatar. It can be given any “job” that anyone cares to script.
A good suit and deep knowledge are not enough to make a person engaging in the real world. A person needs body language. A person needs to be attentive to the person they are engaging. They need to make eye contact. They need to interact with a person’s personal space in a thoughtful, polite way.
Over the last couple of days, the very first “Oculus Rift” headsets have been arriving on the heads of ordinary consumers. And those who write about such things are going wild. This, they say, is the dawn of virtual reality. As far as a lot of people are concerned, this is the beginning of a whole new medium. And given what I’ve seen about the sweeping psychological implications of “immersive media”, it could be true.
For example, Matthias Mccoy-Thompson of The Medium makes the bold statement:
I’ve learned that chatting with my daughters’ friends is a great way to glean insights into what people think about virtual reality. Because they actually do think about virtual reality.
One of my daughter’s friends, who is in grade 6, introduced himself to me yesterday. He was a very polite, well-spoken young man. We got to talking about Minecraft. Pocket edition, Realms, Minecraft summer camps, and I turned the conversation over to virtual reality. Continue reading “Virtual Vertigo”