A captivating Tech Social with VR experts Play Nicely and VRGO
The second Gregg Latchams Tech Social event brought together a diverse selection of entrepreneurs, start-ups and experts, all eager to hear more on the enticing world of Virtual Reality (VR).
The free event took place at Gregg Latchams’ offices on Queen Square on Thursday 27 April. The invited audience enjoyed feasting on pizza and drinks, a play around on VRGO’s nifty bit of kit as well as hearing VR industry insight from Play Nicely and some of the key legal issues for VR developers.
VRGO are the guys behind a new kind of VR motion controller, a seat which you can tilt and spin on in the real world, translated as movement in the virtual. They set up their kit for enthused attendees to try out the immersive and responsive hands-free VR experience.
Our deputy head of Digital Media & Technology, Ed Boal, conducted a Q & A with Scott Fletcher from Play Nicely, a Bristol-based interactive agency specialising in delivering digital content using emerging technologies such as VR, AR, MR and 360. The informal session focused on Scott’s thoughts and opinions to Ed’s questions below:
What was your highlight of VRWC 2017? What did you take away from the conference?
It was a real highlight for me to see big name VR players in our home town of Bristol. It made VR seem grown up. It was brilliant that VRWC was twice as big as last year too, they totally nailed the venues and had a diverse breadth of content – it wasn’t all about games, which is good as this is not the immediate future of VR, although it began from gamers.
To pick out the single greatest VR innovation to date is tricky as it’s all relatively new with the commercial kit only released a year ago. I’d say the biggest jump has been to see the VR headset make waves, followed by the hand controllers and what that provides to the experience. The next step will be to get rid of the cable, that will be huge.
What difference do you think Apple releasing a VR headset would make to the industry?
I’m not sure if or when Apple will release a VR product. But since Google, Microsoft and Facebook are making VR and AR devices, it makes sense for Apple not to miss this trick as they are known for being tech trailblazers. If they do launch a VR product, something like Samsung Gear would be alright. They’re lucky in the fact they have an established market and loads of quality checks in place. Either way, it will make for an interesting development. Google Cardboard is good but it’s entry level, Apple need to do something bigger to take them up a notch.
How does the cost of developing AR/VR/MR content compare with less immersive content development?
The cost of VR I wouldn’t say is any more expensive to develop than non VR games. They both cost the same prices, however there is more risk involved with VR as well as more potential, but there’s a reduced knowledge base so often you need to make assumptions. And it’s getting these assumptions wrong that can make prices escalate. The resource itself isn’t any more expensive though.
We have heard stories of people – mainly women – being harassed and intimidated and virtually groped while sharing VR spaces with other users. What do you think can be done about this? Whose responsibility is it?
It’s the responsibility of whatever channel has subscribed to using VR if it’s being used incorrectly. However, I don’t think the risk is any worse than other channel applications, it’s just that it’s more real. Unfortunately, if someone is going to be an idiot in one medium, they will be an idiot in another medium. It’s partly that VR is a new community too, so if there is one negative experience, it is amplified.
There has been a lot of discussion about the potential psychological and psychosocial effects of regular or long-term immersion in virtual worlds. One of the leading minds in this area, Professor Michael Madary, suggested that developers who create virtual environments need to address the ethical, health and safety issues with gameplay. Do you agree with him?
My most immediate concern would be eyesight. And also, being aware and understanding what reality is. For example, you wouldn’t put a 4-year-old in VR as they couldn’t grasp and comprehend what reality actually is. The value and interest is knowing and being able to compute that it is another reality. Children shouldn’t be able to enter virtual worlds without knowing what they were going into.
At VRWC, Roy Taylor from AMD said that the audience should not plan for where VR is now, but where VR is going to be in the next 3-5 years. What is the greatest challenge that VR as medium will need to overcome over the next 3-5 years?
I didn’t agree with Roy here, although I do understand what he means, but it doesn’t work for reality. Those in the industry working on VR need to know now what is happening and we need to be able to stick to those versions. The thing is, it’s all new in VR – everyone is on the verge of new innovations, and they will always be amongst the first 100 people doing it at this time.
Commenting on the second successful Tech Social, Richard Gore, Gregg Latchams’ Digital, Media and Tech team leader:
“I’m delighted the second Tech Social has been as buoyant as the first. There was a good mix of new and returning faces intrigued to find out what it’s all about. The evening seemed to be buzzing with conversation so I hope many fruitful connections were made.”
This was the second Tech Social event from Gregg Latchams specialist Digital Media & Technology team. The DMT team recently completed a multimillion pound fundraising for a tech company and is advising a number of pioneering companies on everything from data privacy to investment. You can keep up to date with industry news and events (including our Tech Social evenings!) by subscribing to our newsletter or mailing list, following us on twitter, or keeping an eye on our events page.