Social Connections Through VR Arcades
Virtual Reality, Rec Room, and Social Interactions
Jessica Engele, CEO of Aspect Virtual Reality Gaming Studios in Saskatoon, Canada, recently made a business connection that she said has helped her in her day-to-day operations. Engele is an avid Rec Room player and said she happened to meet up with Benjamin Casoni, Operations Manager at Arctic Sun VR in Fairbanks, Alaska, while playing the Golden Trophy game mode.
“My usual friends were waiting around and Arctic Sun VR [Benjamin Casoni] had a high level,” Engele said. “We needed an extra player and he seemed nice.”
Engele said she normally chats people up when playing and when Casoni mentioned he [worked] at a VR Arcade that it piqued her interest. She said they talked about their equipment and had a general business chat and during their conversation SpringboardVR was mentioned.
SpringboardVR is a VR Arcade management software that helps arcade owners streamline both the process of running a VR Arcade and the VR experience for the consumers. Engele said she had actually heard about SpringboardVR and had been contacted by their marketing team previously to her interaction with Casoni in Rec Room––but the VR experience she had is what convinced her to try it.
“I originally didn’t see the value in it until I talked to [Casoni] and he mentioned how much SpringboardVR had helped them,” Engele said. “He said he liked that he could run large groups or multiple groups of people by himself and that it eliminated staff running around to help people.”
Engele said she valued Casoni’s opinion and the VR interaction she had with him helped immensely.
“Virtual reality lets you communicate on a much higher level and it can really sell a point,” Engele said.
Casoni said during his conversation with Engele that she mentioned not looking into SpringboardVR very much, so he encouraged her to do so.
“The customer service was great,” Casoni said. “I literally had just gotten a problem fixed so it was easy to talk them [SpringboardVR] up.”
Casoni said that SpringboardVR also helps Arctic Sun VR execute their business model.
"For us, we try to do as little amount of human interaction as possible,” Casoni said. “That way the customer can get fully immersed in the virtual world and SpringboardVR is super beneficial for that."
Casoni said that he loves the unique human interactions that VR can provide.
“I’m not a big public speaker but being in VR is different,” Casoni said. “There is no social pressure and it gives you a wide variety of people to connect with, without having to travel around the world.”
Along with being a medium for gaming, Casoni said that he can see VR becoming more integrated into people’s lives as it becomes cheaper and more available to the public.
“I can get on Steam and see things like a museum of fine art or I can see a cutout of the human body and learn about a disease,” Casoni said. “It opens up a whole new way for people to learn. Someone could learn how to drive without ever having to go out on the road.”
Rec Room and the Future of VR
Nick Fajt, CEO and Co-Founder of Rec Room, developer at Against Gravity®, said his team believes VR will become a general purpose tool. Fajt said they see VR being used for communication, collaboration and play of all kinds.
“Many of the early companies that are testing the VR waters are coming from the gaming world,” Fajt said. “We know gaming is a great use for all the magic of VR. However, as time goes on, we imagine VR being used for all kinds of things, in addition to gaming.”
Fajt said his team’s goal with Rec Room is to create a fun and welcoming community for people from all walks of life.
He said they try to give their users the tools and activities to form meaningful connections with people from around the world.
“Those tools and activities could be games, but we’re already seeing the community push beyond the games we’ve made,” Fajt said. “The community is building their own tournaments, holding informative lectures, hosting murder mystery parties and several other types of gatherings we never previously considered.”
“Building the community is really what’s important to us, and at the end of the day, it’s the community that decides what Rec Room can and should be used for,” Fajt said.
Fajt said they are excited by the level of creativity they see and they look forward to fostering that creativity in the future.
Jordan Williams, COO of SpringboardVR, says the VR experience is indescribable and he 100% believes it will end up being used practically in people’s everyday lives.
“Sports, medicine, education and more, virtual reality and augmented reality will most likely be used by everyone, every day, much like the internet,” Williams said. “I think the social aspect of VR has implications beyond what most people realize. The fact that two VR Arcade owners happened to be in the same VR room together discussing business is just a small taste of what’s to come.”
Virtual reality is a new and unique medium for human communication, and those in the VR business are already seeing its advantages. Technology that until recently was only experienced by a small group of people is now more accessible and more advanced than it has ever been.
The VR industry is growing quickly and with that comes more people in the virtual experience itself, providing the opportunity to experience new & unique forms of interactions. Conversations, connections, and interactions similar to Engele’s and Casoni’s are just the beginning of VR’s potential in social and business applications.
Special Thanks To
- Jessica Engele of Aspect Virtual Reality Gaming Studios
- Benjamin Casoni of Arctic Sun VR
- Nick Fajt of Rec Room and Against Gravity®
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