There are six reasons why people will increasingly be interested in entering into Virtual Reality experiences. If we create VR products for these reasons, we will gain their loyalty. We will gain more users and they will spread the word, further increasing the number of users. Most importantly, as we develop faith-based VR experiences, we will impact their relationship with Christ with much greater effect.
The six reasons why VR people will accept and embrace this new technology: discovery, mastery, creation, empathy, connection, and transcendence.
The following is excerpted from an excellent article by Laura Mingail, What Drives Us to Seek Out Immersive Experiences. As you read it, envision how superbly well VR can be used for evangelization and faith-growth! I’ve put my ideas in italics.
The desire to discover is deeply embedded in us. Even babies explore their environments through their senses, before they can crawl. Beyond immersing visitors in new worlds for them to see, the drive for Discovery is also fulfilled through manipulating our senses like touch, as well as playing with the visitor’s size so that they can experience what they wouldn’t normally be able to.
What do we want people to discover about Christ? About prayer? About faith? That’s the basis of all good evangelization projects. With VR, we can give users a virtual world to explore. We can give them multiple scenes to choose to enter, each with a different prayer experience or scripture or teaching. If we make the VR world vast enough, no two visits will be the same.
We are strongly motivated to become masters of things, but …. It’s not as engaging to offer someone an incredible ability in VR, as it is to have them build on it … allowing people to focus on developing one skill at a time, offering repetition of practice, and timely, positive, visible feedback …. And, allowing them to build a skill raises their time spent in the experiences, which increases the value that they get from the investment in the content.
What do Christians want to master? We can use VR to help people memorize scriptures, or to teach prayer, or to solve problems through spiritual direction.
Creation is not only a form of expression, but it is also a means to leave our mark on the world. Immersive mediums allow the creation process to become a full-body experience, as users design in the same environment that their creation lives. Users can feel a presence with what is being built, and a more personal connection to it. Offering the ability to create everything from art, to worlds, to stories, appeals to this driver.
What triggers people’s creativity? Beautiful nature and art and music help people understand that God, who is The Creator, give us creative abilities. Our creative activities are union with God. We can design content for VR experiences that inspire creative expressions outside of VR.
The driver of Empathy … is the desire to understand another person’s point of view and live their experiences. The most popular form of fulfilling this driver of Empathy is through powerful emotional narratives, but other ways to achieve this include shifting points of view in the content, and developing a juxtaposition between familiar and foreign things.
What misunderstandings about others do people have? What causes conflicts? By giving users a VR experience that immerses them into a scene where they safely observe what it’s like to be the other, they become better able to love others unconditionally and compassionately.
Shared experiences are how we build social connections. Insights into this driver highlight the extreme importance of multi-user experiences, as well as the value of being able to share what a user experiences with their acquaintances …. So, while 360 content doesn’t have mult-iuser functionality, if a 360 piece has a strong social media sharing component, it could help to satisfy the itch for Connection. Of course, being present with someone in an immersive experience is the best way to appeal to the Connection driver.
What makes people feel good about spending time with others? Affirmation, encouragement, and healthy self-esteem come from human interactions. Jesus ministers to people through human community. Answers to prayer come through community. We can develop VR e-classrooms and meeting places where people gather to learn and to share wisdom.
…to get out of our day-to-day routine, and go outside of ourselves.” … Immersive experiences that offer Transcendence can give consumers the chance to become something other than human, to explore the unknown. Playing with scale, senses, and even the rules of perception, help to take us to a different place …. we start to transcend from who we were.
What do people want to transcend? Problems and hardships, but also their own limitations. Since God is the ultimate Higher Power, we should be connecting people to Christ in VR experiences and give them opportunities to make new discoveries about faith, freeing them to open themselves more fully to the Holy Spirit, empowering them to become who God created them to be.
What are your ideas, triggered from reading this article?