Join the virtual audience in a ground-breaking theatrical VR experience.
Loveseat is a virtual reality comedy making its World Premiere at the 76th Venice International Film Festival and will be the first ever live play performed simultaneously to virtual and real world audiences.
The story: Two lonely, ordinary people are drawn into a reality show competition to win the love of a Perfect Partner (who looks an awful lot like an empty chair).
Part-story, part-interaction between virtual and real worlds, the actors perform simultaneously in front of a live audience in Venice and a virtual audience from around the world, connected thanks to the social VR platform, High Fidelity.
We hope you’ll join us for an hour of interactive, immersive VR theater starting August 27th.
Well, it is nice to know that High Fidelity has not completely abandoned its events programming! Mind you, this was probably all set up well in advance of the company’s abrupt pivot away from the consumer market and the shut-down of almost all of its event programming in April 2019. So this might be the last such event of its type in High Fidelity for quite some time. Although there is still an events calendar on their official website, it’s noticeably lacking the big-ticket events which the pre-pivot HiFi was known for, such as the FUTVRE LANDS Festival last November.
I was very recently invited to join a Facebook group called Cefima, which was started by the Norwegian Film School. The purpose of the group is to explore immersive narratives, and a recent post to this group alerted me to a great editorial blogpost by the Norwegian architect, 3D artist and VR designer Kim Baumann Larsen.
This afternoon I spent an hour hanging out with legendary French electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre, and together we watched an amazing never seen before and impossible to do in real life VJ set with other fan girls and boys. It was a social VR experience in TheWaveVR and the DJ and VJ was Sutu Eats Flies, famous in his own right for his gigs on this emerging social music VR platform. You would think there would have been hundreds, if not thosuands of fans of Jarre’s music attending such an event that enabled anyone to walk up to the legend, to become virtually friends with him and to casually converse, but the instance I was in contained merely a couple of dozen of people.
With both Sansar and VRChat recently available on Steam, the latter being the by far largest platform for social VR, figures are emerging that show just how few people are in a social VR at a given moment. While Steam is not the only distribution platform for VR, there is Oculus of course and several of the apps can be launched outside of Steam and Oculus, the numbers are quite telling. On Steam this past Sunday 9 people were seen in High Fidelity, 12 in Altspace VR, 62 in Sansar, 79 in Bigscreen (Beta), 340 in RecRoom, and 8098 in VRChat.
He goes on to speculate on the reasons for this:
Ask most any one who is working in virtual reality where the future is for VR and most will say that while it is hard to speculate and give a definitive answer it will most certainly involve some kind of social VR. So why aren’t people flocking to these experiences then? The first problem is that VR gear is still rather expensive and the power of VR and of social VR in particular can’t be understood unless it is experienced first hand. The problem with that is that there aren’t many places one can experience it in public and most people doesn’t happen to have a friend or colleague with VR gear nearby.
The second problem is that we have become accustomed to asynchronous communication via platforms like Facebook, Twitter and SMS being the de facto way of communicating long distance and media-on-demand is how most people fit entertainment into their increasingly busy life. Meeting up virtually at specific days and times it seems requires too much of an effort.
And, I must admit, I myself had not thought too much about the synchronous nature of social VR and how we have as a society become more accustomed to asynchronous forms of communication like Facebook and Twitter. As for the cost, I do believe that that is only a temporary problem, as the cost of VR equipment keeps decreasing over time.
UPDATE Dec. 18th: Tech blogger Robert Scoble commented on a cross-posting of this blogpost to the Virtual Reality group on Facebook, raising another good reason that people don’t like social VR: the obnoxious behaviour of trolls.
I got offered a sex act within seconds of arriving in one. Most people are tired of interacting with strangers. For that reason and others.
I have blogged about this topic previously: Why Women Don’t Like Social VR. Culture and behaviour researcher Jessica Outlaw has done market research which shows that some women avoid social VR precisely because they feel vulnerable and, at times, unsafe. This is still a topic which is not really getting the attention it deserves, in my opinion.
I understand that this event was split into three instances of about 30-35 avatars per instance, with broadcasting across all instances. I, unfortunately, did not hear about this event until after it was sold out. The event description states:
Join comedian and YouTube sensation Steve Hofstetter as he brings friends and fellow comedians Maz Jobrani, Ben Gleib, Alonzo Bodden, and Mary-Lynn Rajskub into Sansar for an incredibly interactive virtual comedy experience. There will be stand-up, stories, crowd Q&As, and limited edition items for sale, so make sure to reserve your spot ASAP – tickets now on sale for $9.99!
So this demonstrates that there is a paying audience for good-quality content. A promising start indeed! The organizers made almost a thousand dollars tonight!