"It looks lonely, doesn't it, when you see someone with that headset on? It seems very lonely and antisocial," says Carri Cunliffe, Managing Director at Secret Sauce.
However, she has gathered a panel at Pocket Gamer Connects London that aims to show this basic assumption about virtual reality is baseless.
"We want to look at the flipside of that - that this could facilitate social interaction."
The panel is as follows:
- Carri Cunliffe, Secret Sauce
- Dan Gilmore, Atomhawk
- Paul Colls, Fierce Kaiju
- Tom Beardsmore, Coatsink Software
"Social interaction in the digital world is actually quite low-tech... it quite often just ends up being text, pictures, occasionally voice," says Cunliffe.
She believes that emerging technologies like virtual reality could be about to disrupt this with a more immersive social experience.
However, for Gilmore, the power in existing social media is in its dip-in dip-out brevity - certainly not something offered by VR:
"The challenge is that you have to commit time to it at the exclusion of everything else. When someone's in VR, they're in VR."
Games get (more) social
Colls posits that the very beginning of social gaming on VR will stem from rudimentary score-chasing among friends - "the grander visions of VR social interaction wil come a little later."
Diving a little deeper into these grand visions, the panel's attention moves towards a more far-flung future. What is the endgame?
"I don't think virtual reality is going to replace regular reality," says Gilmore.
While keen to make clear that "it's not that I don't think social is going to be big on VR," Gilmore's vision of the future is one where you occasionally meet existing friends for new experiences in a virtual realm - akin to Starship's vTime - not a Second Life-esque world of meeting new people.
Beardsmore's view is similar, maintaining that VR shouldn't lose sight of what makes it special - new experiences. More and more accuately aping the real world should not become the aim.
"I play games for escapism," he says. "Presenting something new is what all games should be about."