Immediately after the pandemic
Compelling digital environments try to recreate the experience of the real world. The more realistic the environment, the more the mind can escape to this artificial reality. The technology required for making virtual reality and augmented reality feel natural is finally possible. However, it has so far been a niche product, stigmatised as anti-social.
With people advised to stay at home, the desire for escape and normality increased. People working from home felt restricted, stuck behind their screen while video-calling their friends, family and colleagues. Not being able to enjoy the usual experiences outside of the home also leads to depression. Virtual reality promises to help your mind escape reality. Its anti-social stigma is now removed.
Towards a post-COVID-19 society
As lockdown measures ease, new behaviours and habits that emerged from interacting, working and socialising virtually and digitally will persist. Many conferences and events have chosen to go digital. Blockbuster movie releases are going straight to on-demand streaming services. Recreating experiences digitally in the home will be preferred. The technology required to support this will prevail. In cities where living space is limited, virtual reality can help increase this space digitally, providing an escape from reality.
Virtual reality tricks the mind into thinking that it is has been transported elsewhere. This gives users a sense of escape and freedom to instantly go wherever they want. Objects they need can be reproduced digitally.
For work, virtual rooms that support meetings or workshops are engaging and add focus. However, when meeting new people, building initial trust is slow, as much non-verbal communication is missed.
During leisure time, escaping to play virtual sports, exercise, travelling or going to the cinema will provide compelling entertainment and relaxation. Having virtual spaces for different aspects of life – e.g. work, home, social, fitness – will be important.
As technology and its adoption advance, virtual reality will be more than just a tool or a form of entertainment. New social media platforms that can only be accessed in VR will prevail. Escaping to virtual worlds will become part of normal life.
Once complementary to the physical world, virtual experiences will become the primary means of interacting with society. The physical world will not be able to keep up with the pace of the virtual world.
Freedom of expression and desire
Virtual reality provides a new way to role-play. All games and environments will be from the first-person perspective, which means the user becomes the character.
These games and environments allow users to role-play as defined characters, where they can interact in a defined role/story. The more content that is created, the more choices users will have, giving them more freedom to fulfil their desires.
In the future, fully customisable open worlds with user-generated content will provide unlimited freedom for people to express themselves and their desires. These worlds will also be mixed with the real world to create hybrid experiences.
New social behaviours will emerge as we become digital beings. Personalised avatars will extend outside of entertainment. We will live our lives as these new digital personas and this will become our identity.
New digital economies, laws and governance will arise, allowing people to live a fully digital life.
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