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Talking with an Unapologetically Candid 11 Year Old— On the Fate of Virtual Reality

My little sister, Sophia (a.k.a. my mini-me), recently had her first VR experience playing with the Oculus Rift at a tech fair in Nice, France. Reportedly, she loved it.

“I was morphing into different animals like dinosaurs and gorillas, it was sooooo cool! Wowweeeeee Was in a queue tho, so couldn’t play for long. 

no, I promise I didn’t ask her to do the cliché VR stock photo “air-touching” hands, which is ironically a pet peeve of mine… she’s actually doing this for real lmao

Initially I thought, what’s not to love about VR when you’re a kid? When you’re young, exciting tech like this is mind blowingly awesome ⚡️

Sophia, 11

Then it occurred to me. Perhaps not. Sophia’s generation has largely been brought up surrounded by technology, and one laggy slip up in the user experience could have a dooming effect, even if they’re 11 years old. These kids represent a large portion of the audience that app developers need to please — and they’re becoming increasingly demanding as the performance and quality of apps and software soars as they enter the market, and into the Top 10 app store ranks.

Enter VR ✨— it’s new, it’s a buzzword, and a lot of kids want a piece of it without waiting 20 minutes in a line. Currently, it’s somewhat inaccessible given the price of the hardware (which makes it all the more mysterious and desired), but these costs will soon be driven down by technology developments and competition. I gave Sophia my Gear VR when I visited home, curious about her opinion.

I thought I’d impart her wisdom and teachings upon my network, particularly for those curious to know what a technologically experienced (and critical) 11 year old kid/arcade game connoisseur/iOS power-user/VR noob thinks of these crazy VR shenanigans. (side note: I wish there was a HMD emoji…)

You’re welcome! 

Thanks for taking the time away from your maths homework to talk, Sophia. So, how would you explain Virtual Reality to someone’s grandma?

It is something that can be educational, scientific, or even just knitting! It is a way of discovering something in the real world or even a fantasy world, with just a click of a button, and maybe a few more buttons. 

What was the last VR game you played and what did you think of it?

I played Disney’s Coco! My favourite movie! I was expecting something pretty amazing, but all I got were bad graphics and a boring game that lets you dress a skeleton… It was cool at first but when I got teleported to the “Land of the Dead” I was bored.

Pixar’s First Virtual Reality Experience: Coco VR

Do you think that in the future, VR may become anti-social and take people away from reality, and connecting with their friends and family?

Possibly, thats why we should take responsibility with these things. This means mostly use this technology as a way to make education actually FUN But, I do agree that it might be an anti-social problem one day.

What games and movies do you play that you would like to see VR-ified?

I would LOVE to see the movie Jurassic park “VR-ified”. I did try a VR clip of a Jurassic park, but I was expecting it to be more TENSE!! It was pretty boring I only go to see a not-scary dinosaur look at me… As for a game, maybe ROBLOX 🙂

The Jurassic World: Apatosaurus VR Experience (side note: aren’t the graphics INSANE?!)

How would you like to see VR being used in your school?

I would like it to be used in science! Maybe mixing potions together and learning different types of chemicals and elements, or stepping into space or history! I want to experience what it was like in stone age.

What do you *not* like about VR?

There are some BAD graphics, and short boring apps, like the Coco app, what a waste of storage!

Where do you see VR being used in 10 years’ time?

I see it being used in hospitals to help people who are bored or want to learn while in hospital. It could help kids get over their fears maybe in dentists and entertain them with distracting games.

Are you interested in learning how to build your own VR apps? Why or why not?

I’m not interested in making my own games because it looks pretty difficult and I don’t think I’m a game maker, I think I’m a game user! I wouldn’t know where to start if I wanted to learn! 

And lastly, what advice do you have for VR developers out there building games for 11 year olds like yourself?

Maybe add the 5 senses! This is probably very difficult and may take a LONG time, but it would be AMAZING! Imagine yourself in Candy Land and you can actually taste the fresh sweet sugar, and smell the chocolaty river or something like that! That would be wicked. So I definitely recommend adding some senses in the future.

Remember, 11 year olds have valuable and noteworthy opinions, too. Do you know a kid with some interesting opinions on Virtual Reality?

I’m Hannah. I’m a Computer Science student and creative developer. All things Virtual and Augmented Reality, creative tech, and innovative entrepreneurship get me excited — especially when it’s #techforgood.

Feel free to reach out and connect with me! 

hannah blair ✨ (@erhannah) | Twitter