We need a clearer message for VR “movie” experiences

It’s a very exciting time for VR this year. “Killer app” ideas are overflowing for the competing goggles that are rising up. (I have the google cardboard and GearVR, and plan to get the rest. But am also currently struggling to get my first test app out the door for GearVR, with all the oculusSDK/androidStudio/unity5 setup). Anywho. Was inspired by Simon Carless’s “the four horsemen of VR” blog post to try and lay down what i think is the messaging we should pursue for what will sell VR this year and next: the movies.

I think movies will dominate for now – because the controllers just aren’t there in 3 of these 4 examples (or 5, if you count Morpheus). Once controllers get a standard, we’ll see some new killer app pop up to replace “mostly turning to look, and click” as an input. (btw, I tried out Sixense’s gryo+magnetometer lightsaber demo (“STEM”) at GDC and it really impressed. but I hesitate to consider developing for it, because of risky adoption. at around 400 bucks, it’s just not going to be the standard. nor will nod’s cool magnetometer ring at $150).

So for this current interactive-movie-experience that will dominate for at least a year, I think we’re dropping the ball in clearly explaining the core benefit to an uninitiated customer. Methinks the key message is : you become the camera man.
which is important to consider, because most 3D game development and movie development is focused on driving the player towards what you want them to do (you lots of design tricks), but the power of VR right now is how you can turn away and look where you want. How you can ignore the prepared story and “shoot” your own movie.

I think this will be a key selling point, because you can re-experience a VR movie as many times as you want – and shoot a different movie everytime.

+ just to share my excitement, here’s two things i’m hoping to make (or see someone else make):

1) an audience experience for Oculus Cinema, so you can view a movie with famous movie critics (or crew that worked on the movie). based on real recordings of what these people were doing while they watched the movie. seems like something you could sell to enhance existing movies. Instead of watching a movie alone, you could watch a movie with a handpicked audience. (imagine if celebrities got in on this? how cool would it be to watch a movie with Tarantino and spielberg and …i dunno alan sepinwall or somebody)

2) i’m currently guessing that VR movies will have their big mainstream “importance” crossover the first time a big overseas event is captured in VR for everyone else to experience. Like a riot, protest or revolutuon. The iceland video is amazing, but it’s a sort of pretty and safe tourism ad. if i could put on the goggles to experience what it was like in that bloody protest in downtown Paris last night, I think the tech would quickly gain mainstream respect as an important new addition to the human experience.

(but both of these ideas kind of rely on a way to record yourself so others can enjoy you in their VR)

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