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Project Sansar: the democratisation of virtual reality?


The other day, a team from Linden Lab, the guys behind the online virtual world Second Life, came all the way from San Francisco to visit our offices and showcase their latest virtual reality technology: Project Sansar. The perks of working in digital…

The headset and experience were cool, with one of the maps on offer featuring the Hoth planet from Star Wars – needless to say an instant hit with me.

The graphics were impressive and more focused than the Samsung VR, but far from perfect. Most of the VR stuff you’ll come across today is very much the black and white Game Boy of its day: the best ever of course, but of an industry still in its infancy. The next decade or so will no doubt bring us mind-blowing improvement in that field.

There is also huge room for progress when it comes to usability, as the dilemma of how to get around huge virtual spaces within the restriction of a real life living room or small office is still an ongoing experiment.

The design isn’t what bring me to write about Project Sansar. I’ve only ever tried a couple of VR sets and I’m impressed every time – so I don’t mean to sound blasé about such novel, cool tech. But there is something more about Sansar, and that’s the potential democratisation of the VR creative process itself.

The concept behind the platform is to provide an accessible tool whereby anyone can design a virtual world of their own, without being an executive at Electronic Arts, or an eccentric millionaire, or having the backing of a highly skilled team of computer nerds. It’s basically a WordPress for 3D artists and designers.

This is the stuff of Martin Scorsese’s Inception: the freedom to create one’s own universe from scratch, and either share it with the world or keep it for a privileged few. Of course from a marketing perspective, the possibilities are almost endless: from the integration of virtual shops picking up users’ very real cash to brand sponsorship, paid access to exclusive maps and so on.

As a marketer myself, this is exciting stuff. But nowhere near as much so as the idea of boundless artistic creativity and possibilities this offers. This is going to be wicked. Watch this space.

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