As of July 3rd, 2014, Orange County has hosted five virtual reality-themed events that have attracted hundreds of people to various locations in the nearby area. Hackathons, demos, and info sessions have all been organized creating a spark in the VR industry that will continue to flourish like a hearty vine growing toward the energy of the sun.
However, the cost of getting to these meetups continuously is beginning to stretch passed the limits of those involved in the emerging VR culture. Unless the person is a developer who wants to show off their new projects, or is someone who wants to help set up the events, the overall satisfaction rate drops off slightly just because of the price of gas to get there. There needs to be more of an incentive to swing by and check out what is actually happening.
Now, OCVR and VRLA are both doing a good job to meet the demand for virtual reality in the Greater Los Angeles area though so far. Each group is providing amazing locations for their events. Examples include the legendary MxR Lab, the headquarters of a local independent gaming company called Sleepy Giant, and the innovative co-working place known as PeopleSpace. Heck, even an afterparty for the large gaming conference E3 was even held at the iconic Ace Hotel in downtown LA, which shows that the people organizing the events are making the right connections to further the community of VR.
The meetups are also bringing in appetizers and refreshments to keep the stomachs of the attendees filled and hydrated. OCVR is leading the way in this direction because of their food truck experience. They give out free food, free beer, and more through the use of their Burger Monster truck. This definitely helps to incentivize the experience of those looking to travel from far away. Those who decide to make the journey might not be able to afford a 1st class plane ticket, but they can drive down and eat until their heart’s content at one of these events.
But there must be more that can be done to help cut expenses to get to these meetups. Already virtual reality enthusiasts are starting to figure out who lives near them and who would be the best to carpool with. For instance, VRLA co-founders Jonnie Ross & Cosmo Scharf, drove down from Los Angeles together to visit the Orange County VR team during their 2nd demo event at PeopleSpace. Their trip was short, but the effect is still the same.
More individuals travelled from other cities to go to that 2nd demo meetup as well, which you can see in the embedded ‘Transportation-oriented’ video below.
Most people took a motorized vehicle of some sort to get there. Cars, food trucks, SUV’s and Jeeps all carried people onto the highways weaving in and out of traffic driving towards one of the hotspots of VR in town. But that’s not all. One guy even took a skateboarding contraption that he put together.
The obvious next step for those coming to the events is to arrange more carpooling, especially since Oculus will be releasing their new consumer headsets soon. This will help bring the costs of travel down, while upgrading the level of experience involved. Those making the journey together will learn from each other and might even become closer friends. After that, ideas of organizing larger modes of transportation for the community like buses, or trains, can come to fruition.
In the meantime though, let’s see what happens next.
Article written by @industrychanger
Bonus Interview with Karl Krantz at VRLA2:
All videos that were captured at the OCVR’s 2nd Demo Night can be downloaded for free here: