From the outside, virtual reality (VR) might look like one of the most singular activities around, but headset creators insist it can be social. Oculus (opens in new tab) has just launched two new social-based offerings that might just prove it.
Called Rooms and Parties, these activities from Oculus are intended to bring people together to interact and socialise, but in a singular virtual environment. Like a Facebook chat group you can walk into, if that doesn’t sound too off putting.
Oculus Parties is for making and taking voice-only calls in a VR environment, though the number of people able to take part in the call is limited to three. Once connected in a Party, a group can then select to move into a Room, where they’ll be able to actually take part in group activities as well as chat.
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Three's a social crowd
These activities range from watching films on a shared TV to playing multiplayer games together.
Where Parties appear to be a fairly basic layout, Rooms offers something more interesting. Though there won't be any realistic human representations or interactions, this is a significant step for social VR and it's likely we'll see things progress towards this in the future.
These activities will be tied into the Oculus ecosystem as you’d expect, so you’ll be able to search for your friends by their Oculus username. However, users will also be able to connect it to their Facebook accounts, which makes sense considering it’ll significantly improve the ability to find others to socialise with.
Oculus Rooms and Parties are currently available to Samsung Gear VR owners, and Oculus says they’ll come to the Rift system next year. Considering mobile VR has been more widely adopted by consumers, it makes sense to launch social features on the Gear first to reach the largest possible number of users in one go.
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