For virtual reality to be appealing, it must be genuinely immersive. In fact, heightening the user’s immersion is one of the areas of the technology which is most invested in. All external light must be blocked out, any distracting sounds nullified, and the whole experience tailored to make the user forget that the world outside the headset exists at all.
The potential problem here is that generally, the more immersed you are, the less social the experience can become. Putting on a headset blocks out the real world, making it difficult to communicate with people on the outside, and impossible for them to communicate with you. This means that having a good VR experience is less social that playing a traditional video game, where you can at least talk to people in the room with you. Until we can interconnect people into a shared VR experience, at which point it becomes a singularly unique social experience.
But all that could be about change. Some modern establishments are dramatically re-thinking the traditional application of the VR experience, in an attempt to make it more social. Taking a cue from retro gaming bars full of arcade machines, some places, by connecting VR devices to a TV screen, allow customers to enjoy watching their friends move around in virtual reality. Being able to cater to spectators means that others can share in the experience as well as the user, where previously this was impossible.
Now of course that doesn’t change the feeling of immersion for the user. They still can’t really interact with their friends whilst actually wearing the VR headset. But once they take it off, they can talk to their friends about the experience safe in the knowledge that it was shared. Instead of having to describe what happened, everyone saw it with you.
Putting expensive, cutting edge technology in a room with people who may well have had a few drinks before using it might not seem like a bright idea, but the bars that have implemented it have put extra safety measures into practice. Chest straps and harnesses are used to stop wires getting tangled, or users straying too far.