It has been my dream since I first played super Mario on the Nintendo 64, to be able to step into the world of video games. To be able to have a physical presence in the game, turn my head to see rather than a toggle on a controller. I dreamt of becoming the warrior, the explorer, the superhero. Then Christmas 2016 those dreams of an eight year old boy finally became a reality.

I was lucky enough to be given a HTC vive, the number one headset on the VR market. Christmas day consisted of traveling across solar systems and crash landing on a hostile planet, navigating through perilous dungeons fighting off hoards of the undead and training to become the greatest space pirate of them all. It was an incredible glimpse into what VR would one day become.  

Each chance a family member, friend or I get to play, it inspires me in new ways and I ask myself the question “What else could you do with this thing?” Because there are more applications for this product than just standard video games.

This week I downloaded an application for the Vive called The Body. It allows you to explore inside the structure of a cell, it was a very educational experience and one that I imagine would be perfectly suited and well utilised within schools.

VR would allow children and teenagers to experience the battle of Hastings first hand, see what really goes on inside a volcano or explore the mountains of Machu Picchu. Think of the potential in maths, science, geography, PE, languages, design and technology.

Educating through VR doesn’t have to stop at schools though; there are companies that use VR to train their new employees how to operate complex machinery without ever having to put their technology or employees at risk.

I’ve been wondering for months how we might be able to utilise this technology within our streams of work. Each event I support, I ask the question, “How would I do this in VR?” Because I’ve seen the power this tool has and think it is something we should consider utilising. It is a memorable and impactful experience and that’s what we’re all about are we not?

There are however a couple of limitations that would directly affect us, not to mention the obvious cost of the kit and the computers needed to run the Vive smoothly. Our first obstacle and perhaps the largest is the amount of people that can use one headset at a time…One! The VR experience can sometimes be an isolating one. Of course people can watch the player and see on a large screen what the player sees in the headset but it’s not the same experience being an onlooker. There may be ways to utilise the onlookers to add to the experience but I’ve not yet figured that out.

The second limitation I envision in an event context is content. As VR is such a new concept to developers there is a limited amount of content out there, and half of it isn’t great. However it is of course entirely plausible that we could make our own content, we do for most things so why not VR experiences. 

Using free software called Unity we could craft worlds for our participants to explore, send them on missions into space or task them with retrieving a lost treasure. All of which we would relate back to a business related metaphor as we do so well.

By customising and creating bespoke virtual reality content for our participants, imagine the journeys we could send them on, the memories and experiences we could give them. I think it’s a very exciting concept and one that we could bring to fruition.

My theory is, children have a very unique way of looking at the world. They see things from an entirely different perspective and this allows them to solve problems in a different way. This is what we’re all about at the ASE right?

We help others to solve problems. Well by helping our clients to return to their childlike roots and get in touch with that side of themselves we’re helping them to see things from a new angle. What better way to do that than giving them the experience that an 8 year old dreamt of for so long, where he’d be able to dive into the worlds of fantasy and wonder.