Does gaming (specifically VR) bring people together or isolate them?

Each month, we feature new perspectives from our Developer Team at Soundscape VR. This month, Soundscape Creator and Lead Developer, Eric Alexander discusses his ideas about the hot topic of isolation in gaming:

The relationship between technology and community has always been complicated and it’s no different with Virtual Reality (VR). Virtual reality creates a universe outside or in addition to the one we live in every day and, like any universe, can be adapted to serve the user best in that particular moment. VR certainly has the power to isolate and also build community like no other technology. 

Its isolation potential already quite strong, and will only continue to increase with further hardware improvements as the technology matures.  But is VR’s isolation potential a bad thing?

Isolation can be an amazing thing in small doses. To be able to disconnect from society at times is a necessity. With VR a user has the potential to be isolated in the greatest way possible, fully losing themselves in an experience. I originally set out to create Soundscape VR not for just its social capabilities but because I wanted to explore the power of music and isolation. VR can be a gateway to a zen universe with no distractions of the real world (including the otherwise ever-present cell phone), a place you can escape to and not be bothered with reality for ten minutes or for hours.  

Most thing in life are better when shared with those closest to you so it was important to me to ensure Soundscape VR could be enjoyed in groups when users don’t want to be isolated. The connection potential that VR allows can be equal to or greater to that of phone calls, text messaging, or email. VR social worlds bring friends from across the globe together virtually into a shared space where they can escape together, unlike any other technology. VR can also help users forge new friendships with other users who have similar interests but would never encounter each other save for in VR. Nonverbal communication alone with a friend’s IK avatar is an incredible feeling that will blow your mind.  It will not be too long until enjoying the company of friends in VR is a regular activity for many that bring them even closer to the people they care most about. 

Isolation and shared experience available within technology, and VR specifically, are the yin and yang. People must have the freedom to have either kind of experience, and each person will have to be mindful of the balance that works best for them depending on a variety of factors. They must also have the discipline to use VR responsibly as we approach simulation superiority — the moment in time when the virtual world will begin to exceed the real one.