Have you ever wondered what social media would look like in virtual reality?
Last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg presented a demo of how friends could play and interact with each other in VR using Facebook, and this week its come to light that Facebook have brought Rachel Rubin Franklin on board to head up Facebook’s Social VR team and make these concepts into a reality.
Franklin is currently a VP at Electronic Arts, and has been with EA since 2011, during which time she oversaw The Sims 4, which was the best-selling PC game of both 2014 and 2015, selling over 5 million copies. She’s previously worked at cloud gaming startup OnLive, as well as game studio Activision.
At Facebook, Franklin is going to work with the rest of Facebook’s social VR leadership, including Michael Booth and Lucy Bradshaw. She’ll be working on how to get people interacting in virtual reality, making the most out of both social networks and virtual reality headsets – after all, if it’s easier to use social media without virtual reality, there’s no real draw. The challenge for Facebook, and social VR in general, is finding a way to make long distance socialising attractive, and the experiences intuitive rather than slowing the process down; as many of the users of the service might not be computer savvy. A similar problem will be letting users have a face-to-face interaction without hitting the uncanny valley, but this is a problem for all of virtual reality.
Facebook’s attempts at social VR have a slight advantage over efforts seen by Sony and Google in that they know how people interact. That and they can leverage Facebook’s 1.71 billion users, which doesn’t hurt.